IP infrastructure development. The availability of IP infrastructures is a precondition for the provision of VoIP services. The development of IP infrastructures is both a market and a regulatory challenge. The design of an efficient regulatory regime can help development of IP infrastructures and their extension to less served areas. When it comes to rural and less served areas the new wireless technologies play an important role, where a combination of wireless infrastructures and VoIP service can enable a more efficient development of all communications services, including basic voice services.
QoS. With POTS, there are detailed recommendations on QoS from the ITU. In managed VoIP services it is possible to provide measurable QoS. But this is more difficult in best effort services However, in both cases regulatory measures may be necessary. Another important issue is the facility based operators willingness to offer access to QoS provision to non-facility based operators. For example, a major debate in Europe and other regions is the lack of QoS provision in the wholesale Bit stream access products offered by the PSTN incumbents.
Numbering. For a long time to come the VoIP services will co-exist with the POTS. The success of VoIP will depend on its access to the national E.164 number plans. Any regulatory obstacles in accessing numbers can impede or slow down VoIP development. One model is to assign a new number series for VoIP services. But this will create confusion on the consumer side of the character of these new numbers, e.g., on the cost of calling to these new numbers. Another negative aspect of this model is that it goes against technology neutrality in the regulation of VoIP services. The ideal model would be to assign numbers similar to the current PSTN numbers and to require number portability, so people are not forced to change their phone numbers when they want to change to a competitive offering VoIP services.
Emergency call and positioning. The possibility to perform emergency calls and to route the call to the nearest authority , (fire department, police, hospitals, etc.) has been defined as a core element of Public Available Telephony Services in Europe. Similar requirements are part of regulation in other countries. Also location information becomes more and more a requirement posed both for fixed and mobile telephony. In VoIP it is possible to maintain the positioning and routing information for emergency calls. However this requires use of VoIP services from fixed locations. But, one of the promising characteristics of VoIP services is nomadic use. In nomadic use at the current level of technological development, the position information cannot be connected to the emergency call. This is a challenge both to the market players and to the regulatory framework.
Power supply In-line powering of terminals. Basic telephony service continues to work in case of electricity power failure. The current VoIP services/terminals are dependent on a functioning power supply. It is foreseeable that strong emphasis on in-line powering of terminals could put an enormous burden on the VoIP operators and slow development. A possible solution here with regard to emergency services could be to put the disaster/emergency requirements on mobile networks as well.
Interconnection to legacy networks. Interconnection to the legacy PSTN networks is essential for the success of VoIP services. This interconnection is implemented by using gateways and contractual agreements between VoIP providers and PSTN operators. Fair and non-discriminatory conditions for interconnection are a precondition for successful development of VoIP.
Interoperability & Standardization. Different standards are used to establish VoIP services; SIP, H323, …. It is important to establish interoperability between these standards. The interoperability may be implemented at the technology or market levels. Also new numbering schemes like global Dialing System and ENUM may require standardization and interoperability. If the market players cannot find solutions for interoperability, regulatory measures may be necessary.
Security and consumer protection. In regular telephony services the security and consumer protection standards have been defined and are generally found adequate. With regard to VoIP services there is no one-to-one relation between the service and the physical infrastructure. VoIP is just another IP service conveyed in the IP networks and anyone with access to the network can tap the signal and actively damage the integrity of the message and the signal. To assure privacy the VoIP provider can implement end-to-end encryption, which is not 100% secure but can establish security levels comparable to those of regular telephony. The encryption will on the other hand prevent the authorities from lawfully tapping the VoIP signal. Different models for a solution to this can be found. But the most future safe solution will connect this type of security issue to IP connections generally, and VoIP will then be a treated as a sub-set of the general solution.
Managed versus best effort VoIP provision. This is connected to the QoS discussion. The important thing is the transparency with regard to the quality of services provided. A best effort service provider has no means to guaranty QoS at the network level. It can offer easy nomadic use or favorable pricing and by that differentiate its services and attract consumers. However, it is important for the consumers to have knowledge about the different QoS provided.VoIP peering. Today, the most widely deployed business model is that of a VoIP service provider that offers free telephony services to its own subscribers and charges the customers for interconnection to the PSTN. A connection between subscribers of two different VoIP operators generally goes through PSTN. However several peering initiatives between VoIP operators have been introduced, effectively bypassing the PSTN operator. The same issue is relevant for professional users, where VoIP service is established within the cooperative network and any connection to sub contractors etc. goes through PSTN. In addition, peering agreements between cooperate networks can be an efficient and cost saving solution.