VoIP Peering Discussion at VON

I had an interesting discussion yesterday with Dave Gilbert (SimpleSignal), Dave Cullerot (Acme Packet) and Kevin Groth (XConnect) about the current state of VoIP peering and how it will evolve.

VoIP peering is an old idea that is slowly catching on, but will a public VoIP peering network ever replace the Public Switched Telephone Network? There is plenty of speculation about this topic which the four of us will be discussing next Tuesday, September 22nd at the VON conference in Miami. We are participating on a panel titled"The Peering Puzzle: VoIP Interconnections and Peering in a Distributed-Network World".

One fundamental issue of contention is the definition of VoIP peering. Some folks define VoIP peering as a secure, dedicated IP connection between two VoIP carriers. This definition is how data peering is defined between to large Internet Service Providers.

But other folks take a more expansive view and believe VoIP peering is a many to many, peer to peer connection among a large and open group of VoIP networks. This type of peering enables the full potential for two peers to realize all the application possibilities of peer to peer communications, such as the use of broadband codecs and video.

While most peering issues are discussed in terms of technical interoperability, I believe the most important issue is the economic model. The primary economic incentive of peering models are focused on cost avoidance for the source network. This approach in not sufficient.

If you want a VoIP peering revolution, there needs to be an economic incentive for all VoIP networks to open their networks to any anonymous VoIP network. Peering models today lack a secure clearing and settlement mechanism that provides an efficient incentive for destination VoIP carriers to take traffic from an anonymous sources. When this problem is solved, a public VoIP network will replace the Public Switched Telephone Network.