A project has begun to unite the internet and telephone network throughout the UK to revolutionize the way people contact each other via the web.
The UK’s national Enum directory, which makes looking up net phone numbers similar to browsing through web sites, is also likely to change the way communication providers conduct their business. The project is being managed by Nominet, the organization that maintains the .uk domain.
Starting with the country’s net telephony network, the directory is expected to eventually provide details of alternative ways in which an individual can be contacted.
The telephone number mapping (TNM) system on which the directory is based is similar to the domain name system used by the World Wide Web. The DNS is the directory a computer will consult when trying to access a web site it does not know the location of. Enum endeavors to achieve similar results for telephone numbers.
Germany, Ireland, and Australia have already begun work on their own Enum directories.
Manufacturers and providers of VoIP products, handsets, and net services, are also being approached to include the technology in their devices.
Jay Daley, technology director at Nominet, said: Though VoIP was widely used by business firms, its use was restricted to within the firms. There’s no way for one to find another if it only has a telephone number. Agreements for interconnections did exist between VoIP suppliers, but only on an ad hoc basis. It required the caller to know the VoIP supplier someone used so that extra digits could be added before dialing.
Daley said that making it easier for networks to interconnect could result in an increase in the usage of net telephony. It’s going to change the business model for communication providers quite seriously, he said. He also warned that work would have to be done to ensure people’s privacy.