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Celebrating SIP's 10th Birthday (Part 1)

January 30, 2006

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It is hard to believe, but SIP is now a 10 year-old protocol. It's actually quite odd how some media outlets continue to refer to SIP as an "emerging" protocol given its age. It might be due in part to the enormous hype that has always surrounded the protocol. More than likely, it is simply that there has been little else to talk about, given that the telecom industry has remained in a slump for so many years.

Even with a lot of focus on the idea of a Next Generation Network, most of what 3GPP and the ITU have defined thus far has been nothing more than a formalized definition of interfaces and functions that use the SIP protocol. So, what's really "next" about NGN? What services are not available already?

Whatever the case, SIP is getting older, and implementations are now rolling out into the mainstream markets. Companies like Vonage and Packet8 have adopted SIP as the foundation for the services they offer to consumers. While these services have been relatively successful, one cannot help but think back to the late 1990's when SIP was on everybody's mind and great promises of "new kinds of services" were made. In those days, existing service providers were promised significantly lower costs, new service providers were promised the ability to deliver a host of new services that were never possible before, and everybody was promised a rapid service creation environment that would allow new services to be added to the network in a flash.

So, what happened?

It is now 2006, and carriers are still, by and large, offering the same basic voice services of yesterday. Only a handful of service providers are offering video, and we have not seen any new service providers rapidly turning out new kinds of services. {Ed - My VoIP service really has not changed in more than 2 years. }

There are a number of reasons one might give as to why SIP has, to this point, failed to live up to the hype that propelled it in the late 1990's and sustained it through the first half of this decade.

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