ComReg plans electronic numbering trials

8 Aug 2003

As part of a consultation process aimed at making electronic numbering (ENUM) technologies a reality in Ireland, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has established an ENUM forum and secretariat to trial the new system among Irish consumers.

ENUM is a protocol that maps a customer’s telephone number to the domain name system, using an algorithm defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force. The number is then used as a single gateway to the customer using a range of communications mechanisms. If widely adopted, ENUM potentially offers a mechanism to contact anybody, anywhere on the communications terminal and using a communications service that is most efficient or convenient for both parties.

While the vision of ENUM is straightforward, ComReg said that the implementation requires great complexity.

A public consultation into ENUM kicked off in March and responses were received from several companies in the fixed and mobile communications industries, including Internet service providers.

The companies that will participate in the ENUM forum and industry trial include O2, Eircom, Esat BT, Data Electronics, Afilias, mQuery and Vodafone.

A survey revealed considerable uncertainty as to how an ENUM system could be implemented in Ireland and the necessity to set up an industry forum. As a result ComReg has decided to establish the ENUM Forum, and will provide it with its own secretariat and meeting facilities at the regulator’s Dublin headquarters.

ComReg said that it will hold discussions with the Department of Communication, Marine & Natural Resources before selecting a chairperson from either ComReg itself or the Department of Communications or from an independent third party.

The various participants in the forum will provide the necessary technological facilities to conduct the trial and will fund the trial through their own funds or by obtaining sponsorship.

“No deadline for completion of the Irish trial is being set down by ComReg as this involves a lot of uncertainty related to the precise scope and content of the Irish trial, which are to be decided by the ENUM Forum. However, in line with the more limited trials being carried out elsewhere, ComReg would expect that around six months would be necessary,” ComReg said in a statement.

The chairperson of ComReg, Etain Doyle commented: “ComReg has undertaken this ENUM initiative to encourage efficient investment in advanced telecommunications infrastructure by Irish industry and as part of its role in promoting innovative solutions to that end. It is my view that the widespread take-up of ENUM services could very significantly enhance the general inter-operability of trans-national services and improve end-to-end connectivity.

“There is little doubt about the potential of ENUM, but many uncertainties still exist. Nevertheless, being at the forefront of this development should be highly advantageous, particularly for the innovative sectors of the industry,” Doyle said.

By John Kennedy