June 18, 2006

Yet Another VoIP Provider

I came across a news item reporting on a new VoIP provider, efonica. Normally this would not have been noteworthy, but the company claimed that it uses a new (five years to develop, mind you) P2P architecture. Naturally, I wanted to get additional information. The description in their website does not fully answer my question – either I am missing some important component or the architecture is no different than the standard one.

They call the new architecture “DSP technology”. This label is a great choice on two counts: use of a well-known, but misapplied acronym (DSP does not refer to the more well known “Digital Signal Processor”, but “Directed SIP Peer-to-Peer”); use of two most attention grabbing phrases in VoIP (SIP and P2P). The following is their description of the technology: “When placing a call using Fusion’s Directed SIP Peer-to-Peer (DSP) technology, customers automatically access a central registry for authentication, enhancing security when compared to many peer-to-peer alternatives. A very sophisticated and powerful routing engine then facilitates a connection directly between calling parties without having to go through another user’s computer or calling device, as is required in other peer-to-peer models.” This really looks like standard SIP architecture. It doesn’t look like it is related to P2P SIP.

The next interesting item that caught my attention is their claim on another revolutionary idea – Internet Area Code (looks like they have even trademarked this term): “eNumber™, which is an Internet telephone number that begins with [10], the revolutionary worldwide Internet Area Code. efonica products and services require no change to our customers’ current calling habits – they simply dial 10 in front of a number they are familiar with. efonica members have the option to use their phone numbers as their eNumbers or we can assign them new, unique eNumbers. We employ an automated authentication process to ensure the numbers belong to the customers registering them.” I am not sure what is so revolutionary about it. It is not clear how this is different from ENUM. Doesn’t PhoneGnome use an automated and authenticated registration process? They do not give any clue as to why they require dialing the two additional digits. I hope it is not because they can trademark an often used phrase.

Posted by aswath at June 18, 2006 10:48 AM
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Soubds like snake oil to me.

The thing I like about PhoneGnome is I don't have to change my dialing habits. I just dial as normal, and if the call is free, then it makes it that way. Otherwise, it routes it over VoIP or my PSTN line as I've chosen.

Even "peer to peer SIP" isn't a differentiating enough technology to make this company even remotely interesting to me.

Posted by: PhoneBoy at June 19, 2006 03:36 PM

Fusion was a small boutique carrier with a class V switch at its core and many IP pipes into mainly South American countries (if it is the same one from my telecom days). My interpretation of their DSP innovative technology is that they have compiled a database of ANI/DNIS that are valid in the PSTN world, thus making it "more secure" in that these ANI/DNIS can be called by PSTN numbers as well as peer between SIP endpoints.

I agree with Phoneboy, snake oil. Or failing that, a very unclever way of fooling the uninitiated in telecom.

Posted by: Matt at June 19, 2006 08:53 PM

Yeah, one has to wonder how they got that story in Infoworld.

Infoworld put "free VOIP phone service" into the title. Give me a break. Pulver started offering this in what 2002 with FWD? Then there's SIPphone and now countless other, nearly identical, free SIP services out there (including our own GnomeNet: http://www.gnomenet.net)

"Once registered, the user is able to call any other Efonica user for free.

Calls to numbers outside Efonica's network are charged at a lower rate than fixed-line or mobile phones. For instance, Efonica calls to the United States cost $0.018 per minute."

So what's newsworthy here?

Posted by: David Beckemeyer at June 20, 2006 03:09 PM

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