ENUM : The key To Unified Communication?

Bringing all forms of communication together on one platform has obvious benefits for business users. One technology that could make this an affordable reality is ENUM.

ENUM is a new registry service that unifies telephone numbers and the Domain Name System (DNS) to simplify the way that VoIP calls work.

It allows more VoIP calls to be connected directly over the Internet rather than across the traditional PSTN network, thereby costing no more than the rental already being paid for the Internet connection.

The core principle of ENUM is to translate a telephone number into a domain name. This allows users to carry on using the existing phone number formats they are familiar with, whilst enabling the device to route the call using a DNS lookup. Using the DNS makes ENUM a quick, stable and cheap link between telecommunications systems and the Internet.

Users register their telephone number as an ENUM and store their VoIP address in a record within their ENUM domain. To make use of the technology callers with an ENUM enabled device simply dial a telephone number in the traditional manner.

Their telephone system then performs a look up for the corresponding ENUM and if the query is successful then the call will be routed according to the specific indications set by the user i.e. via VoIP.

If the number called is not in the ENUM database, then the call will proceed to the person's traditional telephone via the telephone operators and incur the associated charges. If all the people you call are VoIP enabled then you will be able to make considerable cost savings if they register their numbers too.

Registering your VoIP number in the ENUM database allows you to advertise to other users how you’d like to be contacted, including multiple phone numbers, email, instant message and fax.

This enables you to be contacted on different electronic communications devices and software applications by using a single identifier – a telephone number converted into a domain name.

We anticipate interesting applications that take advantage of this to start to appear and provide even greater benefit to using ENUM. For example, users could set up rules that direct callers to their mobile during the week and email at weekends.