CableLabs and VoIP Peering

Well a lot of blogging from me last week about activities in the field of Next Generation Network (NGN) Interconnection.

A more commonly used term for NGN Interconnection has been VoIP peering. However, the term VoIP peering may be is losing is usefulness since it limits the concept to VoIP.

Anyway, one organization that has been surprisingly silent in the recent dialog about NGN Interconnection has been CableLabs. In October 2006 CableLabs released a Request for Proposal (RFP) for “CableLabs® Voice over IP (VoIP) Peering Registry Services.” The RFP was focused on delivering a solution for VoIP to VoIP calling between Cable MSOs (Multi-System Operators).

The CableLabs RFP generated a lot of excitement when it was first released, but no progress has been reported by CableLabs. Rumors in the industry indicate a pilot trial is in place based on ENUM technology from Net Number deployed by NeuStar.

More importantly, however, is the reality that Time Warner (TWC)—a critical player in any successful VoIP peering initiative, partnered with Sprint to handle all of TWCs offnet voice traffic. So the lack of news about VoIP peering from CableLabs may be telling—there is not much to tell. Perhaps the Cable MSOs are too small a market niche to drive a standard NGN interconnection strategy, or may the initiative was just too early.

Another possibility could be the limitation that the CableLabs approach had no mechanism for inter-carrier settlements. Open peering sounds great until you look more closely at the need to manage the profitability of your network. At that point, peering without any economic controls seems like a very risky concept.