With the goal to integrate the Skype service with the growing enterprise deployment of SIP and SIP PBXs, Skype has been marketing a gateway interface called Skype for SIP and certifying interoperability with leading vendors.
To date, Skype for SIP has been certified for Asterisk, ShoreTel and now SIPFoundry's sipXecs.
Organizations desiring to sign up for the Skype for SIP beta need to commit to a monthly fee (incoming Skype calls are free) based on the number of 'channels' which are concurrent Skype calls. Prices range from €19.95 (+VAT) per month for 1 or 2 channels to €4.95 for 30 or more to a maximum of 300 channels per SIP profile. Outbound calls to the PSTN or mobile operators are billed at the normal Skype rates.
I met Steve Johnson, President of Ingate USA, the session border controller manufacturer from Sweden that more recently partnered with TMC to develop a one-day seminar on SIP trunking taught by Ingate staff and resellers. Aimed at users, potential resellers and service providers, the event has been going on for a couple of years now as an event co-located with IT Expo.
It was Steve's observation that in tough economic times, enterprises are more willing to experiment with new services if it reduces their cost structure, and SIP trunking is no exception. Steve also suggested that cable companies are new participants to the SIP trunking market and sees a growing interest in using SBCs as clear demarkation points between the edge of the enterprise and the edge of the service provider, as they address business needs for IP access services and SIP trunking services.
At VoiceCon, I met with Seamus Hourihan VP Marketing & Product Management and Jim Slaby, Director, Enterprise & Contact Center Solutions Marketing from Burlington MA's Acme Packet. Both Seamus and Jim had worked together at Wellfleet and then Bay Networks in the mid-1990s.
With a commanding lead in the [[Session Border Controller]] market, where Acme Packet has 500 customers in more than 85 countries, the products support a wide range of applications spanning VoIP interconnects/peering for IP transit, PSTN origination and termination and ASP access and hosted business and residential IP communications, including IP centrex, voice over broadband, and 3G video telephony.
Unhappy with relying on proprietary extensions to do the most trivial of enterprise features - hold, transfer etc - some vendors are tilting at the windmill to get interoperability going.
In this story by Phil Hochmuth of Network World, reports on the arguments for SIP-B (SIP for Business) , a definition of RFC 3261 extensions that could enable some proprietary extension conversions to standard practice.
Usually promoted by vendors with lots to gain, extensions to standards have a rough road ahead and the SIP-B, is no exception. In the story, Phil surveys the industry problem well (call transfer doesn't work if the SIP call control is from one vendor, and the SIP phone is from another). However, the fact that there is little industry support in IETF to codify extensions, and only a modicum of interest in the SIP Forum tells you that this is not a break-the-bank or kill-the-market impending feature requirement. It's a nice to have, with little benefit for the vendors who invested in their frameworks for proprietary extensions.
For all the years I worked for Nortel, it took Citel and 3Com to show me a phone system where a Norstar phone worked with a Meridian phone!
In today's edition, Ron Kermish and Paul Smith from Bain, discuss the hidden jewel inside MCI and AT&T that made them the target of Verizon, SBC and Qwest.
It's VoIP silly.
The network, the engineering skill, the intellectual property of how to do VoIP for millions of consumers, businesses and government minutes is at the heart of the purchases. Convergence networks for carriers simplifies management and operation. That's because they simplify the architecture, allowing the network to balance the network load automatically interweaving packets of voice conversations together into a seamless web of conversations.
But, it's not just for the LD; it's for the new kinds of services. Convergence services. Services built on IP that may happen to involve real-time voice or not.
This is the future of communications, and, with the acquisition of MCI by Verizon, and the acquisition of AT&T by SBC, it is the future of these 'behemoth' corporations.
Interestingly, Smith and Kermish recommend that carriers must jump into the world of convergence more and faster and deeper, despite their legacy infrastructure, because the competition is already there.
I went searching around on Google for stuff on SIP and carriers. Here's one of the best articles yet.
Paul Gowans of Agilent Technologies writes about the emergence of the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) in this clear piece on the integration of wireline, IP and wireless networks.
Check it out.