Home / Blogs

FreeNum Links Phone Numbers to the Internet

Phillip J. Windley

I loved John Todd's ETel presentation (podcast) on FreeNum, a scheme for bringing phone numbers to the Internet. Of course, I love identifiers and addresses and all that they enable, so it was a natural.

Suppose you were a university campus and when you looked at your phone bill, you noticed that a lot of calls were to other universities. You've got a VoIP telephone system; they've all got VoIP telephone systems. You might wonder "isn't there some way to route these calls over the Internet and save some serious money?"

The answer, of course is "yes" but making it usable is a little harder than simply routing packets. The problem is all about identifiers and addresses. In this case, identifiers that are addresses.

Traditional phone numbers are tightly controlled by the telcos, unlike the world of Internet addresses. The simple answer would be to use something like SIP URLs, but we run into a usability problem: most people's phones have a regular, standard-issue DTFM 12-key dial pad. Using that to enter SIP URLs is a non-starter for anyone but the most hard-core.

ENUM could provide some help. ENUM is method for providing DNS-like services for phone numbers that piggybacks on DNS. The problem is that it's not very DNS-like. In DNS, control of a subdomain can be delegated (the zone file), but with ENUM, it's hard to delegate responsibility for zones to the right entity. This is because ENUM is based on traditional telephone numbers and so the zones don't necessarily match with entities who care. For example, who should responsible for the "3" zone inside the 801 area code?

Todd discusses an alternative approach called ISNs. ISNs rely on a new number, administered by IANA called an ITAD or Internet Telephony Administrative Domain. Like a domain, anyone can get an ITAD. Once you have one, you control the naming inside that number, just like you control the email addresses inside your domain.

ITADs are combined with an internally assigned number (called the subscriber number) to create an ISN. So, suppose that BYU's ITAD was "256" (it's not). My extension is "26465" so my ISN would be "26465*256". Someone at another entity with a SIP phone could call me, from a regular keypad, by calling that number.

It seems that my i-name registrar ought to be able to apply for an ITAD and then assign a number to be that resolves to by i-name and then use the information in my XRDS file to route the call for me-even to my cell phone if that's where I've pointed xri://=windley(+phone). That's a service I'd like to see. 

By Phillip J. Windley, Author & Consultant. More blog posts from Phillip J. Windley can also be read here.

Related topics: Enum, Telecom, VoIP


Don't miss a thing – get the Weekly Wrap delivered to your inbox.


To post comments, please login or create an account.

Related Blogs

Related News

Explore Topics

Dig Deeper

IP Addressing

Sponsored by Avenue4 LLC

Mobile Internet

Sponsored by Afilias Mobile & Web Services


Sponsored by Verisign

DNS Security

Sponsored by Afilias

Promoted Posts

Buying or Selling IPv4 Addresses?

ACCELR/8 is a transformative IPv4 market solution developed by industry veterans Marc Lindsey and Janine Goodman that enables organizations buying or selling blocks as small as /20s to keep pace with the evolving demands of the market by applying processes that have delivered value for many of the largest market participants. more»

Industry Updates – Sponsored Posts

Influential Law Firms Have Become Early Adopters of '.law' TLD

Nominum Announces Future Ready DNS

dotMobi and Digital Element Announce Strategic Partnership

Neustar Expands Professional Services Offerings for Communications Service Providers

New Nixu Solution Slashes Cloud Application Delivery Times from Weeks to Milliseconds

Nominum Releases New Version of Carrier-Grade DHCP Software for Telecom Providers

Neustar and University of Illinois Launch the Neustar Innovation Center

Nominum Launches World's First Purpose-Built Suite of DNSā€Based Solutions for Mobile Operators

Neustar Names Joe Pasqua to Head Neustar Labs

President Obama Names Neustar President and CEO Lisa Hook to NSTAC

72 Confirmed Talks - If You're Attending, Now is the Time to Register

eComm 2009: Discussions on Restructuring Global Telecoms

eComm 2009 Signs Skype As Headline Sponsor Of European Conference & Awards Debut Event

Ben Scott and Free Press in the Network Age

Supernova Interview: David Isenberg

Wendy Seltzer Interview: How Law Impacts the Network Age

Jon Peha, Chief Technologist, FCC, on the National Broadband Plan

Supernova Interview: JP Rangaswami

Nominum's Intelligent DNS Gives Service Providers Commanding Advantage Against Internet Threats

Visa, NeuStar Team to Propel Trusted Mobile Payments and Financial Services Globally