1 Why VoIP Peer to Peer and Social Networking providers cannot ignore Legacy Telecoms! Or why Peer to Peer VoIP needs Voip-Pal IP to succeed! Professor Ed Candy Senior Life Member IEEE, Fellow of the IET UK and Chartered Engineer Companion of the IREE Australia Former CTO 3 Group and Hutchison Europe Whampoa LTD Non Exec member Voip-Pal Board Pioneer of UMTS and Mobile Internet Services 25th February 2014
2 1 Introduction There are six fundamental tenants for a VoIP service to be successful across the global telecommunication ecosystem. Continued failure to understand these tenants has meant that Internet VoIP services and systems have made little impact on the main stream world telephone network. The assumption that Internet VoIP is a superior technology, and will supplant the telco systems and networks is false. It shows a lack of understanding of the technical structures of interconnect systems, the implications of operating in regulated markets, and the commercial operation of what is perhaps still the world s largest engine. VoIP systems will ultimately provide the world s voice services using the Internet, but only when the new entrants to VoIP services begin to appreciate the fundamental functionality, which must be realized and accommodated. The purpose of this paper is to define these key tenants and why they are so fundamental, and how each can be addressed using the Voip-Pal patent technology portfolio. The Essential Tenants for a Voice Service The essential tenants arise from the desire to create a mainstream VoIP network using the Internet, which is able to operate seamlessly in conjunction with the world telecommunications network, offer like services, and build a comparable and competitive VoIP network. They are as follows: 1. Universal numbering, its ubiquity, resulting in anyone being able to call or be called in any network in any country via mobile or fixed services.
3 2 2. The value of the network defined by Metcalfe, which is equal to the square of the number of accessible subscribers. Halve the number of users and the value of the business is reduced to a quarter. 3. The imperative of interconnect, termination, and recompense for delivery of calls by other networks. 4. The importance of regulatory compliance when delivering and receiving calls to and from networks operating in regulated markets. 5. Gateway systems for interconnection of VoIP networks to mobile and fixed networks transporting OTT VoIP services across fixed and mobile networks. 6. Maintenance of uninterrupted VoIP calls to and from and across fixed, mobile, and WiFi networks. The relevance of each of these tenants is set out in the subsequent paragraphs. The Universal Numbering System IPC carrier research indicated that there are over 8 billion active fixed and mobile subscriptions, with the ratio between mobile and fixed at 6:1 and a ratio between developed to developing markets of 5.9 : 2.1 in These 8 billion subscribers have the opportunity to call any other subscriber or be called by any subscriber using the classic world telephone numbering system. It applies equally to individuals and domestic premises. It includes businesses, corporations, government administrations, call centers, special number categories, premium service numbers, automatic reporting systems, voice messaging systems, and used equally by both fixed and mobile services. Its fundamental ubiquity, together with universal connection between all networks, makes it unassailable.
4 3 For any network to achieve an equivalence of reach and value to its users, it must be able to interconnect and operate seamlessly within the global system, whether it is fixed or mobile. It is only from such a position that a VoIP service can begin to compete and acquire a comparable share of subscribers and build towards a dominant position. This evolution strategy recognizes the strength of the fixed and mobile networks, and the importance of embracing the existing systems rather than attempting to create a separate, competing network. Social networking providers and like systems cannot build this position from a simple peer to peer VoIP system. It will not provide access, interconnect, number management, or comparable services. Most subscriber numbers will be inaccessible and lack appropriate signaling conventions and prescribed commercial interconnect agreements. Thus, telco operators will simply deny termination to their subscribers and services. The Voip-Pal Routing, Billing, and Rating (RBR) patent referred to later, overcomes this fundamental limitation. The Value of the Network- Metcalfe s Law Metcalfe determined the relationship between the value of a communications network and the number of subscribers. In a broadcast network, revenues are determined by the number of listeners or viewers. The value of the business is thus proportional to the number of subscribers; twice the subscribers gives twice the business value. For a telecommunications network where there are at least two participants in every revenue generation event, the business value is proportional to the square of the number of the subscribers or accessible subscribers. If the number
5 4 of subscribers is doubled, the value of the business for the same conditions increases by four times. If however only half the number of subscribers is accessible, then the value is reduced by four times. On a more intuitive level, a telephone network that cannot access all the numbers across the region, the nation, or the world, is far less valuable to subscribers. This is why access to all numbers is vital. It is why mobile networks have acquired substantial valuations and why telco operators have such entrenched positions. A VoIP network could not achieve an equivalent position merely through its own subscriber base, but could achieve such a position if it truly became part of the whole. But again, it would have to at least fully support the international numbering plan and all the systems that make its operation possible. By using Voip-Pal s patented technology, a VoIP network can appear to function as another telco network so that it can achieve the same national and international reach as any legacy telco network. It then achieves a strong position to equal and then supplant legacy systems. Interconnect and Interoperation It is the interconnect system which operates between all fixed and mobile telecommunication networks that enables the multitude of fixed, mobile, public, and private operators to operate as one. The system defines signaling structures, the transfer of traffic, network interfaces, the production of call records, routing commands, call directions, call origin, call destination, call type, and call durations.
6 5 It also allows for validation of subscriber terms for the impending service, and in the case of mobile, manages and identifies subscriber location and sustains calls through handover and roaming. It is the call records and the rating system that provides the basis for wholesale billing and charging, which occurs when operators deliver calls across networks and when calls are terminated by other operators. It is impossible to effectively operate within the wider telecommunication without generating the records, or functioning as another telco service. Social networking VoIP providers would not be able to build a service without addressing these fundamental issues. The Voip-Pal patent portfolio describes a routing, billing, and rating system with a hierarchical architecture that can be implemented to achieve this fundamental requirement. It also describes methods for determining best paths across the Internet to maintain service quality. This is an essential patent, which would require licensing to avoid infringement. Regulatory Compliance Legacy telco s are invariably subject to regulations covering the quality of service, legal intercept, and emergency calling requirements, which demand that location and origin information accompanies calls to emergency service operations. Governments enforce compliance through operating licenses and will withdraw licenses if compliance is not maintained. This means that governments are in a position to insist on compliance even for traffic transiting or terminating in the network which has originated outside the network. Again it will become almost impossible for VoIP peer to peer traffic to transit any regulated network unless it complies with legal intercept, and can provide location, origin, and destination information.
7 6 Social networking VoIP providers have no such systems, nor have any been defined for existing VoIP systems. The Voip-Pal patents describe techniques and offers a solution to effect the required interception and emergency calling functions. Mobile Gateway With the ratio of mobile to fixed reaching 6:1, the integration of VoIP services with the mobile networks becomes fundamental to ensure access to the entire telco network. Because mobile networks have additional requirements and can support both voice and data sessions from the same device, Voip-Pal has defined a set of Mobile gateway functions which in conjunction with the RBR patent provides a means to ensure that the VoIP services can be delivered to and from any mobile network. Some, or all, of these functions will be needed by peer to peer social networking providers and potential infringement will require at least a licensing arrangement to support the functionality. Uninterrupted Calls to Wireless Networks A limitation of simple peer to peer systems is that when VoIP calls transit across wireless networks new Internet addresses are automatically generated and the integrity of the call origin and destination addresses are lost. Call records cannot be created and the call is lost during handover or during a transition between mobile, WiFi, or the fixed network. A peer to peer social networking provider of VoIP service would have no means of achieving a useful service when wireless systems are involved. It would be a continuing source of customer dissatisfaction, particularly when the wireless segment is at the called party end and in the wireless domain where handover, roaming, or transition between wireless networks could produce unacceptable levels of in call terminations. The Voip-Pal patent portfolio has a
8 7 patent to overcome this in conjunction with the RBR patent and would be essential for a mainstream VoIP service. Conclusion The Voip-Pal patented technologies were developed by engineers with industrial and operational experience with Internet, packet, and telecommunication systems over a period of ten years. This unique balance of knowledge led them to appreciate the challenges presented by such environments in creating a VoIP network service, which would integrate with the wider telco network. It would be able to be developed independently with a far lower cost base than legacy telco systems and develop progressively towards a dominant network in its own right. The Voip-Pal patent portfolio encompasses the necessary innovations to achieve this. It defines the essential functionality, which can be simply and effectively implemented, and it provides for a minimalistic operation. There is no better way to route calls on the Internet and to legacy networks than Voip-Pal s RBR technology. The techniques are equally relevant to all the VoIP systems, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Vonage, and Yahoo. As a result, any VoIP network and service that integrates and operates in conjunction with the global telecommunications system is likely to infringe upon all or part of the Voip-Pal patent portfolio.