Alteva, SimpleSignal announce SIP peering alliance

Alteva and SimpleSignal have formally announced the creation of an IP Peering Alliance.  While the two companies are the first hosted business VoIP service providers to publicly announce a relation to interoperate at the VoIP and SIP level, a number of other companies are reportedly considering joining up. Direct video calls between the two company’s networks using the Polycom VVX media phone have already taken place on a regular basis to demonstrate interoperability between the two company’s networks.

A “fabric-based” peering arrangement is being used, enabling customers on either network (and ultimately any other carrier’s network who signes up) to directly make IP connections for higher-level services such as HD voice and video calling, as well as other “advanced feature integration” services.  By avoiding routing calls through the legacy PSTN and sticking to all IP, business VoIP carriers can deliver pure IP-based services and avoid getting charged for traditional voice minutes usage and termination charges — better quality of services (HD voice vs PSTN toll quality) and lower cost are the results.

Alteva and SimpleSignal hope other non-traditional carriers follow suit and have the door open for business VoIP carriers and larger service providers.  Exact numbers are hard to judge, but one source believes “more than 8”  VoIP carriers are actively involved with the Alteva-SimpleSignal alliance in order to avoid stock per-minute PSTN billing and termination charges.   In an early October interview with this editor, Alteva President William Bumbernick indicated that upwards of 18 to 20 companies were “interested,” ranging from very small company all the way up to “relatively medium/large carriers.”

The move to announce an IP peering alliance comes in part as the result of a series of quarterly meetings of a group of business VoIP CTOs discussing issues that mutually affect their companies.  Meetings have discussed information on training, technology, and best practices. leading participants to believe that “coopetition,” as Bumbernick described it, was a good way to get things done. “Together we can make a much bigger impact in telecommunications,” he said.

Interestingly, the announcement comes as larger carriers have scored Federal Communications Commission efforts to formalize Net Neutrality rules. It is not known what Tier 1 providers think of the nascent IP peering efforts at this point in time, but Sprint’s PIN SIP interconnection service is likely to drive discussions on the merits of joining up with the IP Peering Alliance or simply paying Sprint for SIP interoperablity.

During the early October interview, Bumbernick said the CTO working group was investigating a variety of technical alternatives and business models for scaling the fabric larger, with the goal of figuring out a design, understanding what the costs of implementing it would be, as well as defining how and if any business information passing between companies in the course of peering would be protected.

Bumbernick described the initial efforts to set up direct carrier peering between Alteva and SimpleSignal worked well and was “a much simpler process than we thought.”

Alteva and SimpleSignal intend to demonstrate their peering relationship — including HD voice and video communication — at Acme Packet’s Interconnect 2009 conference in Miami on November 8-11. Acme Packet’s SBC plays a key role — perhaps the key role –in enabling full SIP peering between carriers.

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