VeriSign Ups the Ante for IP Wireless Connect

VeriSign’s IP Wireless Connect has passed a significant milestone with the trial of its service by Net2Phone, which was recently announced.

VeriSign is well known for the core role it plays in the Internet’s infrastructure, currently managing the .com and .net domains with its ATLAS technology. VeriSign’s Network Routing Directory is based on ATLAS, and is an effort to help carriers centralize and manage addresses and service location profiles. The Wireless IP Connect Service component provides a single interconnection point for cellular-to-Wi-Fi interoperability, providing cell phones with an IP address within Wi-Fi connectivity areas.

VoIP provider Net2Phone is now in trial with the service, enabling its members to send and receive calls over either traditional mobile networks or Wi-Fi. According to Tom Kershaw, vice president of next generation services at VeriSign, the Net2Phone trial is significant because it is the service’s first announcement of a consumer application. To date, VeriSign has announced four customers running the Wireless IP Connect Service in VeriSign’s trial environment.

“As we continue to move forward we learn how this technology can best fit consumers, how it can benefit carriers and how it can integrate into a VoIP offering,” Kershaw told “Net2Phone, being a VoIP operator, has a different perspective than a wireless carrier, it’s important for us to explore and have the market understand how a consumer VoIP application can leverage wireless to provide a more complete solution.”

According to Kershaw one of the things that VeriSign’s solution does is facilitate the integration of IP islands. “One of the things we’re doing with IP Wireless Connect is providing IP-to-wireless integration,” Kershaw said. “On the carrier side it does IP-to-IP trunking, so when an IP device in carrier 1 is talking to an IP device on carrier 2 it will go end-to-end over the IP network leveraging NRD (Network Routing Directory).”

“It’s IP trunking under the covers and it’s mostly SIP but it doesn’t have to be, there are other protocols that can be used,” Kershaw added. “In the enterprise, there is still a lot of H.323 out there that we’re able to leverage. The large carriers they are looking to do peering through ENUM.”

ENUM is another protocol that leverages DNS that allows different independent VoIP islands to find out who owns a specific phone number.

“We view ENUM as protocol much like any other protocol that we support on our connect suite. You can issue us a query with ENUM, SIP, H.323, SS7,” Kershaw said.” “We try to be protocol agnostic when it comes to providing addressing services to operators.”

VeriSign’s Wireless IP Connect service is still in trial, and still has a number of challenges left to overcome. According to Kershaw one of the biggest is handset availability. He characterized the availability of production-quality dual-mode handsets as a “work in progress.”

“Handset availability—and getting all the features that the wireless operators have built up over the last 10 years to work in a VoIP environment—will take a lot of work,” Kershaw commented.

Kershaw’s sees the biggest competing technology to be UMA, which uses traditional SS7 and mobile signaling and just uses Wi-Fi as a radio tower replacement. UMA is in stark contrast to the VeriSign approach, which has been to implement SIP and try and integrate the technology with VoIP infrastructure that is being deployed in order to enable a “more differentiated feature set.”

“SIP creates some challenges from emulating all the features of the mobile network,” Kershaw said. “But the long term benefits of having a tightly integrated Internet offering far outweigh the negatives.”

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