The DTI and ENUM

The Department of Trade and Industry in the UK is considering a public database that will link IP numbers to phone numbers. ENUM will be a searchable database of an individual’s domain names, email addresses, IM identities and telephone numbers.

Stephen Timms, Minister of State for Energy, E-Commerce and Postal Services (now that’s a portfolio of three entirely unrelated remits if ever I saw one), said “ENUM is a system that links telephone numbers to Internet names and destinations, increasing the flexibility of electronic communications. It is one of a number of developments that will allow us to operate more easily and effectively in the converging worlds of telecommunications and the Internet. The UK has been one of the foremost players in developing the ENUM concept and the Government wishes to continue to stimulate further development in this area.”

ENUM would enable users to access internet services from a telephone, and vice versa. All telephone numbers would essentially become like IP numbers.

Voice over IP services will benefit greatly from a service like ENUM, but some analysts are concerned about individuals’ privacy. The DTI recognise this from the outset: “ENUM may become an important element in the process of convergence between the traditional telecommunications world and the Internet world. The arrangements for ENUM necessarily include at least one unique registry function and therefore particular care needs to be taken to prevent abuse. The proposed arrangements have been defined by an open group of interested UK parties. DTI is seeking confirmation that the arrangements meet the needs of an open competitive market and adequately protect the interest of all participants and safeguard the public interest.”

The DTI’s consultation on ENUM

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?