Academics converge on ENUM trial

The Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet) on Wednesday kicked off trials of ENUM, a method of electronically mapping telephone numbers to IP addresses.The national ENUM trial in Australia launched around one month ago and could operate for up to two years.

The Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet) on Wednesday kicked off trials of ENUM, a method of electronically mapping telephone numbers to IP addresses.

The national ENUM trial in Australia launched around one month ago and could operate for up to two years. The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) recently accredited AARNet as an ENUM trial registrar, which has enabled the organisation to provide the option of a converged communications system to more than one million members.

Chris Hancock, chief executive of AARNet, said ENUM will allow one telephone number to be used as a single point of contact for all communications, including mobile phones, fixed line phones, fax, email and Voice over IP (VOiP).

"The exciting thing about ENUM is its single number functionality which will ensure further simplicity of communication... The possibilities for ENUM are enormous as it brings true convergence of the data and telephony worlds," said Hancock.

Geoff Johnson, vice president of research on enterprise networks for Gartner Asia Pacific, said that ENUM technology will become more important as VoIP traffic increases but warns that until the technology is more widespread it will only be useful to a fragment of the overall market.

"The sweet spot about ENUM is that it is emerging, interesting and worth looking at. The big trap is that it is not going to be pervasive anytime soon and you will see outbreaks of activity - like AARNet," said Johnson.

According to Johnson, enterprises should be paying attention to the ENUM trials because they are likely to highlight potential problems when the technology does reach a critical mass.

"[Administrators] need to be checking out SIP and ENUM at the research level. It is not something they have to do urgently but it is worth watching the progress of the AARNet trial, principally for the human issues like privacy and uptake -- whether people think there is value or not," said Johnson.

AARNet3
AARNet also announced on Thursday that the next generation of its national network infrastructure, which will provide high capacity Internet connectivity to Australia's universities, will be based on carrier class switches supplied by Juniper Networks.

The AARNet3 backbone network will have a 10GB per second connection between Perth and Brisbane. Last year the network carried more than 1 petabyte of traffic and AARNet estimates this figure will increase by 50 percent a year for "several years".

AARNet's Hancock said the universities will make the most of their increased capacity: "The exciting activities of astronomy, high energy physics and immersive multi-media test the boundaries of our network capacity. Astronomy alone is looking at terabytes nightly. These networks are now among society's most important infrastructures. They are vital to so many sectors of our economy," said Hancock.

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