VoIP Peering

What does Peering mean?

To begin to understand voice peering, we need to start with peering. Peering is the process by which two internet networks connect to each other and exchange traffic. This allows to directly hand off traffic between their customers, without paying a third party to carry that traffic over internet.

In general, networks can be connected in two ways; a transit relationship or a peering relationship. A transit relationship is where one network pays the other to carry its data. In addition, if a network operator sends or receives traffic over a transit connection, the paths are decided by the transit provider. If issues were to occur such as slow connection, the network is on the losing end of its transit provider. Transit providers often cover larger areas and connect to other networks in few locations. For example, your network path may travel through different cities.

The second way to connect networks is a peering relationship whereas both networks agree to send data back and forth without charging each other. Peering is the more popular for many reasons with the major one being cheaper to hand over traffic themselves rather than paying someone else. This allows for greater control of traffic and serving local populations. A network operator who chooses peering, has far more control over external paths, and can easily adjust routing. Important to note is that peering can keep traffic local, in providing faster connection between the two networks.

  • Peering is the process by which two internet networks connect and exchange traffic.
  • Peering is a settle-free agreement between two networks.
  • Peering carries data only between the two network, and not via the PSTN.
  • Voice peering or VoIP peering means forwarding calls from one ISTP to another using VoIP technology
  • VoIP peering can vastly reduce costs while also increasing control over traffic and better call quality.

When peering becomes an issue

Since the most common type of peering is settlement-free, which means that both networks agree to pass each other’s data for free. This agreement lies in the assumption that both networks send and receive similar amounts of data. But what happens when one starts tipping the volume scale and benefits more from the peering agreement. For example, Netflix constitutes almost 37% of all internet traffic in North America during peak hours. The network Cogent manages the outgoing traffic and our ISP providers have to accept the data from Cogent and pass it along according to their peering agreement. But in 2013, Cogent accused the ISP Verizon of saturating their traffic ports instead of opening up new, which resulted in lower data transfer and thus a degradation of the Netflix performance. This is mainly interesting because you can pay a premium subscription for the fastest internet possible, but it’s still out of your hands with disagreements like above due to peering arrangements.

Types of peering

There are various types of peering. Peering in essence means that two networks connect, such as in a circuit across one city to another or a facility to another. Public peering is done through an internet exchange, which is an ethernet switch in a colocation facility, which all the networks peering in the facility connect to. An internet exchange allows networks to peer with many other networks through a single connection. Peering arrangement are required but not in regard to new cabling. Private peering on the other hand combines the two forms. Two networks have routers in the same facility but have a direct cable between. This is more common in large volumes of traffic.

VoIP Peering

The term VoIP peering is also called Voice peering , and refers to the forwarding of calls from one internet service provider (ISTP) to another using VoIP technology. In addition, it refers to the relationship between carriers in which they agree to exchange VoIP traffic on IP networks instead of PSTN. Since calls aren’t forwarded over the PSTN, it can vastly reduce costs and allows for better quality due to the fact that there is no transcoding between the VoIP cloud and the PSTN. In addition, carriers are able to offer new features, including presence and mobility for all end-to-end VoIP calls.

As companies increasingly install VoIP systems, they’re also looking for ways to avoid toll charges associated with the PSTN. VoIP peering keeps the voice traffic on IP networks which allows VOIP to be completely independent of PSTN. The market is still fairly new to VoIP peering, and carriers are testing out different methods with third party services, some include; NeuStar, Switch and Data.

The shift to internet-based telephony still comes with inefficiencies with existing hybrids such as Skype. Even though both service providers are using IP based networks to connect calls, the calls still need to travel across the PSTN at some point. This is often mirrored in corporations that implement VoIP systems but in order to call, they still need to go through the PSTN. These calls are often subject to a packet conversion which inherently results in inefficacy as well as reduction in call quality. With greater levels of VoIP traffic over the years, it has made providers question themselves as to why they need to subsidies the analogue costs of the PSTN when it can be done cheaper using direct IP connection. As a result, third party providers have been set up in Europe and the United States to exchange VoIP traffic.

Summary

The term Voice peering is also called VoIP peering, and refers to the forwarding of calls from one internet service provider (ISTP) to another using VoIP technology. In addition, it refers to the relationship between carriers in which they agree to exchange VoIP traffic on IP networks instead of PSTN. There’s no doubt that voice peering soon will be the main future medium for communication for corporations. Businesses are quickly adopting VoIP, especially with large calling service centers.  Voice peering will be the fundamental infrastructure in the future that might be dominated by smaller internet service providers rather than the big carriers and the PSTN that we mainly  know today. This is due to vastly reduced costs as well as far more control over traffic and quality by skipping a step in the traditional process.

Glossary