Voxilla's Interview with me on P2P VOIP

I received a call early in the evening last night from Carolyn Schuk over at Voxilla. Apparently they listened to my interview with Cullen and wanted to hear more about open standards P2P VOIP. Here is a link to the article and the phone interview with Carolyn.

The Article at Voxilla

The Recorded Interview | MP3 | 4MB 12Mins

3 responses to “Voxilla's Interview with me on P2P VOIP”

  1. David Barrett says :

    Here’s a message I sent Erik earlier (about a July 25th post), that he asked I post here. I’ve included it in its entirety, and will follow up with another post after.

    —–Original Message—–
    From: David Barrett [mailto:dbarrett@quinthar.com]
    Sent: Tuesday, August 02, 2005 3:11 AM
    To: erik@sipthat.com
    Subject: Re: P2P VoIP using SIP and Open Standards

    Hi, sorry for the late reply to your July 25th posting about P2P SIP, but
    you posed the question:

    >> Everyone is looking for a new solution for P2P VoIP, I think P2P SIP
    >> is the answer, do you?

    My answer is no, I don’t believe P2P SIP is the key to P2P VoIP. More
    specifically, I don’t think an IETF standard for decentralized SIP proxies
    will gain traction because it solves problems that nobody has, while
    complicating the problems that we do.

    Now, I recognize VoIP will grow, and the actual media components will
    migrate to P2P. But I do not believe the SIP proxy component of the global
    architecture gains anything by being decentralized in this way.

    My reasoning is based on the observation that P2P is primarily useful in two

    a) When a centralized solution is too costly
    b) When a centralized solution is legally vulnerable

    Consider the case of Napster. A kid in a college dorm room was able to host
    a global rendezvous service (akin to a SIP proxy) for millions of
    simultaneous users, for free. Obviously, he didn’t suffer from (a).
    But (b) was what took him down, and thus gave rise to Gnutella (et al).

    But had (b) not occurred (ie, had the courts ruled in favor of Napster), I
    offer that Gnutella simply would not exist because it offers precisely zero
    incremental value. It is slower, less reliable, and less comprehensive than
    Napster could have been. Had Napster been allowed to grow, it could have
    offered better services, evolved faster, and been superior in every
    measurable way.

    SIP proxies are today like Napster was then. But VoIP isn’t illegal, and
    thus a SIP proxy is not a legal vulnerability. Thus I see no reason to
    believe that a decentralized alternative to a SIP proxy would warrant the
    resulting complexity cost inherent in any “pure”-P2P solution.

    All that said, I do believe that P2P is the future of VoIP, and near-free
    services will be the business model. I merely think that the SIP proxy part
    of the equation is best left centralized.


  2. David Barrett says :

    So again, I’m still not sold on the benefits of P2P SIP. I think it’s cool, don’t get me wrong. And the idea of setting up an instant P2P network in the middle of a desert or in a disaster area is appealing, certainly. But you have to admit those are rather extreme circumstances. For the remaining 99.999% of actual real world users, this is not the case.

    Furthermore, I agree that the servers at Free World Dialup and other free SIP services cost money. But not much, else they wouldn’t be free. For under $100/mo you can get a dedicated server right on the backbone. The cost of deploying and maintaining hardware is virtually negligible these days.

    The real costs come in managing the network, and this is where centralized services come in handy.

    So P2P SIP is cool, certainly. And it might be handy the extreme situations you offer. But by the time the intrinsic decentralized problems have been hammered out, a centralized alternative will already dominate the landscape. And when it comes to competition, the decentralized solution offers no significant real world advantage (cost, reliability, performance) to anyone (user, administrator), while offering significant drawbacks in terms of complexity and the overall uncontrolled nature of P2P.

    Would you disagree? I mean, except for disaster areas and deserts, and except for saving $100/mo for a million users, what’s the benefit?

    Furthermore, do you acknowledge the disadvantages in terms of reliability and performance (ie, global distributed search versus database lookup) of a P2P solution? How would you argue the benefits outweigh the detriments?


  3. Aswath Weblog says :

    P2P, SIP and Security

    For the past couple of days, Erik has posted discussions on SIP based P2P and security issues. These discussions are in audio format and are really interviews with Cullen Jennings, Rohan Mahy and Erik’s interview to Voxilla. The following is…

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