SIP Forum shares latest projects

* Efforts include enhancing security features for SIP trunking and suggesting ways to more easily configure SIP endpoints.

We recently spoke with Marc Robins, president and managing director of the SIP Forum, to catch up on the latest news about Session Initiation Protocol. In its latest efforts, the SIP Forum has worked to enhance security features for SIP trunking; suggested ways to more easily configure SIP endpoints; added Fax-over-IP to the list of SIP-controlled services; and started work on SIP-based unified communications, HD video, and smart grid device controls.

In one case of recent activity, the SIP Forum identified a need to improve the user identification process to register SIP endpoints on devices such as a SIP-compliant phone. The new "user agent" protocol will make it easier for users to access hosted VoIP services controlled by SIP because they don't have to use a computer screen to configure their phones, and it also allows handsets sold over retail counters to more easily become authorized endpoints for hosted services.

In another initiative, the SIP Forum joined forces with the i3 Forum to resolve deployment and interoperability challenges posed by the interoperability of fax-over-IP. Among the challenges surrounding IP-based fax was finding a way for users who have relied on the traditional TDM-based fax machines to work reliably with IP-based fax support. Variations in the interpretation of the traditional T.38 fax machine specification have lead to interoperability issues between vendors, and SIP-based session control can alleviate some of these problems during session set-up.

Extending SIP capabilities to include other value-added services over a common network, SIP Forum teams are in planning stages to enhance SIP control of UCs, HD video, and smart grid. While these efforts are more long-term, SIP networks could eventually offer session control for home-area network devices, customer energy management systems, utility company operational networks, and even back-office control systems for Plugin Electric Vehicles (PEVs) that manage charging, roaming, telemetry and other issues like inter-vehicle communication.

Our observations: While work by standards bodies and industry forums may seem mundane, these are the groups that put ideas to paper and make interoperability possible. Enterprises may sometimes have the luxury of single vendor systems making interoperability a moot point, but carriers never enjoy such luxury. All of these enhancements will improve SIP's capabilities and eventually help service providers offer improved value-added services over their SIP-controlled networks.

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