The cable industry has set up a phone number registry that MSOs can use to establish SIP connections to other service providers with whom they have peering agreements.
Called PeerConnect and managed through CableLabs, the registry helps cable operators and their partners exchange the data necessary to establish IP-based voice and video calls, SMS messages, and other forms of IP communications, without having to go through the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
In production since 2009, the registry is now being opened for wider participation. CableLabs is administering the registry, but is not hosting it. The identity of the hosting company was not released.
Participants in PeerConnect populate the registry with their data, and when looking for peers' data, they can either query the directory or replicate it.
Beyond facilitating connectivity, the ability to remain within the IP domain for communications enables new features. HD voice, for instance, is not supported by the PSTN, but it can be accomplished for calls that are exchanged between all-IP networks.
Support for MMS and SMS messaging also creates possibilities for new features for services. For example, it would be possible to offer customers the option to receive SMS text notifications from, say, their banks or pharmacies.
Messaging would, of course, also be enabled between any two SMS-enabled devices.
"We have designed this service to accelerate the adoption of end-to-end IP communications and open up the possibilities for new real-time communications services," said Jean-François Mulé, CableLabs' senior vice president of technology development and the PeerConnect program director since its inception. "We solved many parts of the dynamic and distributed provisioning issues by implementing Web services and adopting an open protocol framework for data provisioning, resolution and replication, working with numerous actors in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to agree on common standards."
The PeerConnect registry includes three main service elements:
- A registration service allowing cable operators to dynamically provision various service data elements
- A resolution service element for cable operators and their peering partners to perform number translation and routing queries to the registry using the IETF SIP and ENUM protocols
- A replication element to dynamically distribute session routing data for SMS-MMS and VoIP to select partner companies.
Comcast, Cablevision, Cox Communications and Shaw Communications are among those already using the registry.
"The PeerConnect registry allows Comcast to move telephone number translation services inside the IP domain," said Phil Miller, vice president of strategic partnership development for Comcast communications and data services. "It provides a scalable solution for us to dynamically distribute numbers and other IP voice session routing data to select partners."
"Cablevision has been using the PeerConnect registration services for some time with great success to disseminate IP session routing information to peers. It is a scalable solution for managing peering relationships and it is built on open standards to advertise session routing data to various valued-added service companies," said Wayne Thompson, Cablevision's vice president of telecom and Internet management.
"This initiative provides each operator an independent and secure way of managing its data distribution to enable dynamic peering relationships with cable and non-cable operator companies. In Canada, Shaw is leveraging the registry resolution service as a number translation service," said Peter Bissonnette, president of Shaw Communications.
"The PeerConnect registry is part of the SMS-MMS service platform Cox Wireless TMI has been leveraging with great success for its mobile rollout," said R.K. Gopinath, director of wireless product development and management at Cox Communications.