Skype Journal Test

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dan York on "Skype and SIP"; Input for Skype's Platform Ambitions?

Just in case you've been on vacation on a remote island not reading Skype Journal the past few days, Phil and Michael Robertson have been having this debate about Skype and interop with SIP-based services (more here and here). It even spread to last Friday's SquawkBox call.

This morning Dan York, who sits on IETF forums on VoIP security, weighed in with his perspective in a post: Skype and SIP Interop - the two sides of the issue raised by Michael Robertson where he lists all the various posts on this subject and comments:

About Wireless Openness:

So with that view, you can expect I applaud Skype's efforts to open up the wireless networks and allow consumers to have a choice of what apps they want to run. I want the *wireless* carriers to be big, fat, dump pipes... give me an IP address on the *mobile* Internet and let me do what I want with it. Sure, the carriers can offer their own services, and maybe if I like them I'll pay for them.... but I want the option to use other products and services - without degradation or prioritization...

To put it another way, I pay the wireless telcos for *dialtone* now. Once connected, I can call anyone and use any *voice service* over the PSTN. I could use someone else's voicemail if I want (like GrandCentral), although the carrier's offering may be more convenient (and is usually free). But I can call anyone on the PSTN and use any voice service I want. The carriers just provide me dialtone.

I want "IP dialtone". I want a Big, Fat, Dumb Pipe.

So... go, Skype, go

About Skype Openness
We need to build the interconnect.

Yeah, there are a TON of issues out there that we still need to address to build that interconnect. There's a whole host of security issues... there are billing issues... there are trust issues... there are network plumbing issues. Yes, there are all those issues. But if we are to succeed in ultimately bringing about the rich communication experience we want, we need to make this happen.

And for that, Skype's walls need to come down.... at least a bit.

What we need is that Interconnect from Skype's cloud out to the emerging IP infrastructure. Think about it... Skype right now has a two-way interconnect between Skype's cloud and the cloud we know as the PSTN. It's called "SkypeOut" and "SkypeIn" (or whatever marketing names they are being called now). If you dial my SkypeIn number, you can reach me on Skype wherever I am. From my Skype client, I can call anyone on the PSTN. The two-way interconnect is already there.

So why not offer the same on the IP side?
My feeling is that we are at a stage in the evolution of IP-based communications where the interconnectivity agreements between service providers still need to be worked through. While technically one can make the connection, it seems that every SIP gateway also requires a business agreement and transaction - similar to the agreements amongst PSTN carriers that are so transparent to our ability to make calls anywhere on the PSTN. I'm not a technical expert; I just want to be able to call as many of my contacts as possible - at as low a cost as possible - but I also want the privacy, security and authentication of Skype when connecting to other services.

In a Skype Journal post earlier today, Skype President Josh Silverman is quoted as mentioning that Skype is looking for a GM for Platform whose initial responsibility will be to lay out Skype's future platform architecture. But Josh also assured us that user perspectives will be considered while designing this architecture. It would seem that, once the appointment is announced and Skype has a forum for user input, the debate engendered by these posts would be a good starting point for consideration of one aspect of Skype's platform ambitions.

Now the real challenge for interop beyond the issues mentioned above would be incorporating wideband (or HD) audio across the interconnection. I have had an experience the past few days where wideband audio hardware benefited my ability to complete a project more accurately. Hey, you technogeeks want a technology challenge?

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