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  • From: Kurt Reichinger < >
  • Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2004 08:08:57 +0200

FYI. Article from "Communications Daily".

Cheers,        Kurt.

‘Jumping Off the Cliff‘
Austria is ready to be “first to jump the cliff” into commercial e-numbering (ENUM) services, Internet Foundation
Austria (IPA) Chmn. Michael Haberler told us. A 2-year commercial phase will launch this year, overseen
by the country’s Broadcasting & Telecom Regulatory Authority (RTR) and with providing registry services,
said Georg Serentschy, RTR managing dir.-telecom section. The plan flies in the face of claims ENUM isn’t
ready for prime time in Europe because technical and regulatory issues aren’t resolved. Because no one knows
how ENUM will develop, Serentschy said Thurs., regulators are exerting a light touch.
ENUM activities don’t fall within Austria’s telecom act because it specifically excludes domain names from
RTR’s authority, Serentschy said. However, he said, early on the govt. applied for for its ENUM
domain name because it recognized the relationship between telephone numbers and ENUM services. As the domain
owner, RTR sets rules for its use.
Austria ran an ENUM trial, but it’s shifting to a commercial rollout in the late 3rd quarter or early 4th quarter,
Serentschy said. The phase is limited to 2 years because “one of the things we want to find out” is what the
ENUM service will look like, he said. will have the right to operate the registry during that time, he said,
but if ENUM proves popular, others may be allowed to bid on providing registry services. Extensive discussion in
the U.S. has concerned whether there should be multiple registries as well as registrars. Austria is most likely to
go with a single registry and several registrars, Serentschy said, but it depends on the market. It’s not clear who
will be most interested in ENUM — consumers, businesses or both, he said. Until that’s known, the govt. doesn’t
want to overload the emerging service with regulatory constraints, he said.
The only regulatory action the govt. has taken is to dedicate a new number range — 780 — for ENUM services,
Serentschy said. The new ordinance takes effect this month. The decision grew out of the country’s ENUM
trial, said Haberler. For individual users, it’s more desirable to have a new number rather than an existing phone
number, he said. The trial showed the biggest problem with ENUM is tracking use of existing phone numbers.
An ENUM entry can exist only in relation to an existing phone number, he said, so if that number is cancelled,
ENUM “goes away, too.” With the new 780 numbers, Haberler said, that won’t be a problem, because the domain
allocation will match the number allocation.
There must be “synchronicity,” Serentschy said. ENUM marries telephony to the domain name system, he
said, so the owner of an email address must also hold the matching phone number. Ensuring that is easier with a
separate numbering space, he said.
ENUM has sparked privacy concerns in the U.S. Civil liberties advocates worry that making personal information
available in a Whois-like directory will leave people open to spammers, stalkers and other unpleasantness.
In Austria, however, the European Union privacy directive and national laws strictly control how much personal
data registries and other operators can give 3rd parties, Serentschy said.
Last month, some ENUM experts said more work was needed to ensure interoperability and resolve issues
such as certification and authentication, consumer protection and possible competition problems (WID March
17 p1). Haberler disputed comments in a Political Intelligence report to the EC that “identifier namespaces”
are in short supply and “gatekeepers” could harm the industry. Service providers won’t hamper ENUM deployment
because it’s a “user opt in service” not under providers’ control, “and that is a pretty fundamental issue,”
he said.
Also critical of earlier comments was Richard Shockey, NeuStar Inc. senior mgr., strategic technology initiatives
and co-chmn. of the Internet Engineering Task Force ENUM working group that developed the protocol.
The Washington Internet Daily article and the Political Intelligence report to the EC painted “a much too bleak
picture of actual developments in Europe,” Shockey said. “Where there are certainly small technical glitches in
the protocol, the consensus in Europe and here in the U.S. is that ‘it works,’” Shockey told us. The fact that testing
is going on to establish interoperability “in no way indicates the protocol is not ”ready for prime time," he said.
Moving Cautiously on VoIP
Austrian regulators are also moving cautiously on VoIP, Serentschy said. A minimum amount of regulation
appears key to reliable service, he said. VoIP can’t be regulated from a single country’s vantage because the service
can be provided transnationally, he said. RTR has classified VoIP services into: (1) Those like’s
Free World Dialup, with no access to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). The RTR shares the FCC’s
view this is an information service for which regulation isn’t needed, Serentschy said. (2) Voice-over-Internet services
that access the PSTN through a gateway. These could be classed as telephone services, he said, and if they
can be provided globally, they probably should be regulated, he said. (3) Voice-over-Internet services where the
provider also furnishes broadband and other services and has influence over packet routing to the PSTN. This is a
telephone service that will become increasingly important as everyone moves to all-IP networks, Serentschy said.
Callers using these networks will want guaranteed service not a “fuzzy” Internet connection, he said.
RTR sees “some need for regulation” in classes 2 and 3 to ensure emergency calls go to the proper call center,
Serentschy said. Regulation could require operators to route emergency calls to centers somewhere in the area of
the call originator, he said.
Asked whether the European Commission (EC) is likely to have a hand in VoIP regulation, Serentschy said
no. The EC could, however, craft a framework that’s either mandatory or recommended for European Union
member states, he said. The EC is working to create a single market, but unlike the U.S., Europe has many national
identities in different stages of telecom and Internet development, he said. The EC can define the goal, he
said, but “individual paths to reach that goal could be different.” VoIP “needs very strong international coordination
and harmonization” not limited to European countries because services could be provided anywhere,
Serentschy said. — Dugie Standeford
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