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Letting DNS Loose

RFID tags, UPC codes, International characters in email addresses and host names, and a variety of other identifiers could all go into DNS, and folks have occasionally proposed doing just that. Its really just a question of figuring out how to use the DNS -- its ready to carry arbitrary identifiers. And by the way, this isn't a new idea, see RFC 1101 for proof, although even earlier I designed the DNS in the early 1980s to allow it to be so, but it seemed too far fetched to document for a while. ...I was in Geneva for a WSIS meeting of CTOs, and was surprised that the various organizations (ITU, ICANN, ISOC) haven't figured out that they need each other to make this technology work, rather than asserting ownership. more

What the Net Did Next

During this slow and long lull of domain name policy and ICANN related news stories, I thought it would be a good time to bring an article by BBC News Online technology correspondent Mark Ward to the attention of the CircleID community. In it, ICANN Chairman of the Board Vint Cerf reflects on the history of the Internet and his involvement as somewhat of a "midwife," rather than the "father" title he doesn't like. He also looks to the future and identifies two key, fundamental changes that will shape the next stage of the Internet. As he puts it, they are VoIP and ENUM. more

Why Do We Care About Names and Numbers?

An article based on the most recent study for the European Commission on the Policy Implications of Convergence in the Field of Naming, Numbering and Addressing written by Joe McNamee and Tiina Satuli of Political Intelligence.

"With relation to the Internet and also IP addresses, the "scarcity" is more complicated: there are not only intellectual property issues with regards to domain names, but there is also an issue of managing the integrity of the system. For any naming or numbering system to work, it is essential that the names and addresses used cannot be confused with any other -- in other words, no one system can have two end-points with the same fully qualified number or name..." more

Convergence: ENUM is a Big Deal

Convergence as a technology concept has been around for decades. Many have predicted the convergence of electronics and entertainment, of PC's and TV's, and more recently of WiFi and cellular. All of these areas are in fact undergoing various degrees of convergence but there is another area that many are not as familiar with. It is called ENUM...The idea can be extremely useful when you consider that most telephones are limited to twelve keys on a keypad. Ever tried to enter your alphanumeric login ID and password to a web site on a cell phone or Personal Digital Assistant? It is next to impossible! The biggest impact of ENUM will probably be for Voice Over IP (VoIP). In fact, it could be the tipping point. ENUM is a really big deal. more

With No Privacy Standards Who Knows Who Is Abusing The Whois Database

John Banks is a loan officer in New York. John's supervisor recently warned John about the potential number of bad loans he may be carrying as part of his portfolio. To dump some of the bad loans he might be carrying, John came up with a scheme. He pointed his web browser to www.whois.org and entered terms denoting disease or poor health such as 'cancer' and 'illness'. This query on the Internet's WHOIS database reported results of names and addresses of domain name owners who had developed websites devoted to providing information on certain serious illnesses. John compared these names and addresses with those in his portfolio of loans. For the matches, he canceled the loans and required immediate payment-in-full. more

Internationalized Domain Names: The Babelization Factor

As current statistics now clearly indicate, two-thirds of the estimated 560 million people online are non-English speakers. As one would expect, in the upcoming ICANN Shanghai Meeting of October 28, 2002, IDNs (Internationalized Domain Names, also known as Multilingual Domain Names), are one of the main topics of discussion. This global affair is also fueling the growing list of Internationalized Domain Name Certified Registrars that offer domain names in many other non-English characters with .com, .net, and .org. more

Parsing Hype From Hope: Will ENUM Spark Changes In Telecom?

In the beginning there was silence; then, silence begat communication, and communication begat more communication and, ultimately, group communication formed and begat a primordial "network" of communication that gradually and inevitably increased in effectiveness and complexity: there were only signal fires at first but, then, there were cave drawings, carrier pigeons, shouting from hill-tops, smoke from fire, lines of cannon fire, the telegraph, Alexander Graham Bell, and, finally, the network of networks known as the Internet. But, is that it? Is there not something more impressive in its impact upon communication than the Internet? What more might one desire than the dynamic wonders of the Internet, you ask? Well, what about ENUM? "E-What!?" more

Choosing Internationalized Email Addresses

Recently I've been working on Email Address Internationalization (EAI), looking at what software is available (Gmail and Outlook/Hotmail both handle it now) and what work remains to be done. A surprisingly tricky part is assigning EAI addresses to users. In traditional ASCII mail, the local part of the address, what goes before the @ sign, can be any printable ASCII characters. more

Success Drivers of New gTLD Applications

Being approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) as the owner of a new generic top-level domain (gTLD) extension requires considerable analysis before the application is submitted. You must understand the sources of risk, gauge your risk tolerance, and you must obtain an estimate of the value of your proposed TLD's future revenues (with the effects of potential competitors factored in, a step too many applicants ignore). more

Google Voice Dispute Highlights an Opportunity for Mobile Network Operators

The recent row between Google, Apple and AT&T concerning the removal of Google Voice from the Apple iPhone store highlights the friction existing between network operators and so-called over the top (OTT) application providers. Most observers believe that AT&T initiated the blockade because Google Voice (which offers free or highly discounted calling rates) is a direct threat to AT&Ts call revenue (Google Voice users need only pay AT&T for access to the Internet). more

Will ENUM Deliver?

ENUM (E.164 NUmber Mapping) is a technology that has been around for a little while that has promised much and, so far, delivered little to the average user. As Nominet has recently been awarded the contract to administer the UK 4.4.e164.arpa delegation, I thought it was time that I put my thoughts on this subject down in writing. I'm going to cover the potential of ENUM in the telecoms industry and what it could mean to you, along with how it is currently being used and what potential security issues surround ENUM. more

National Domain Registry Nominet Launches UK ENUM

Nominet, the national registry for .uk domain names, has announced that ENUM, a registry service combining UK telephone numbers and the Domain Name System (DNS) for VoIP calls, is live. ENUM, also known as Telephone Number Mapping, is expected to allow companies and their customers and suppliers to make free or cheaper calls. In addition to the cost savings, other value-added features that ENUM is expected to provide for corporate communications include 'follow me' type function that will allow an individual to choose how (voice, fax, mobile, email, text messaging, location-based services and websites), and when they would like to be contacted throughout the day. more

FreeNum Links Phone Numbers to the Internet

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... more

Infrastructure ENUM

After much initial fanfare a couple of years ago ENUM has matured to a state where it is currently yet another under-achiever in the technology deployment stakes. ENUM initially presented itself as a very provocative response to the legacy telco position of monopolising public voice services through their exclusive control over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and the associated controlling position over the telephone number space... The perception was that ENUM was going to dismantle these levers of control and open up the voice market to a new wave of competitive carriers. If the address plan was the key to the PSTN, then ENUM was intended unlock this network and position the new wave of Voice Over IP (VOIP) carriers to take over any residual treasures of the traditional voice market. Events have not played out according to these expectations... more

Help! This is Not an Emergency

I like the drift of the Pulver/Evslin proposal on emergency communications, and wish there was as vigorous a debate going on over here. I just hope we in the UK aren't jerked out of complacency by some major disaster -- although widespread use of pre-paid cellular means the problem of sunken landlines isn't as acute. Yet I can't help but wonder why the poor public has to wait for a disaster before they're given partial control over how their number maps to different destinations and services. Why can't I get a voicemail service from someone other than my connectivity provider? Why is ENUM hostage to the telcos, whose interest lies in ensuring that new services can only come from them? more