TIA Emerges as CITA and put SIP Interoperability on Agenda

The TIA, newly re-named as the Communications and Information Technology Association, had its bi-monthly Convergence Forum meeting at Alcatel’s Maidenhead headquarters at the end of last month and SIP was right at the top of the agenda.

Comms Business was on hand to hear the presentations and the discussions about the planned SIP interoperability testing.

Nigel Jones of Alcatel, the host for the day, made a very interesting presentation on SIP in the enterprise. He explained that SIP, the means by which any compliant device or application can set up any sort of call to one or more SIP endpoint. “It’s an ‘any time, any place anywhere’ sort of protocol”, he said.

Bob Baddeley, Corporate Telecommunications Manager at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston, gave a users point of view in his presentation. “Users want SIP” he said, “but they will want to know that the SIP phone they buy from vendor A will work with the SIP call controller they have bought from vendor B”.

And therein lays the problem. SIP, like all standards, is only the starting point for most vendors, be they software or hardware companies or both. They will take the SIP standard with its various Requests For Comment, or RFC’s as they are known to the Internet Engineering Task Force (aka the IETF – anyone for alphabet soup?) which developed SIP, and add various features to it to come up with their own special blend.

This is where the CITA Convergence Forum, members of which include most of the major IP communications vendors, comes in. Following CITA’s earlier IP telephony interoperability testing programme run by BT Exact, the Forum’s members agreed to proceed with SIP interoperability testing. So far so good, we say. But agreeing to do it and actually doing it are two different things. Not all of CITA’s vendor members have made a public commitment to go through with the testing, which costs not a small amount of money. Alcatel is the only vendor which has, and thus should be applauded.

Comms Business is of the opinion that SIP interoperability testing is of vital importance to the convergence industry, as it is the only way the end users will know that one of their major concerns about IP communications has been answered. If you or your company is in a position to influence the vendors, please take the time to speak with those who make the decisions on this sort of thing, and urge them to put their money where their mouth is and sign up for the testing.