Commerce backs convergence protocol

The Commerce Department has endorsed a protocol to merge telephone numbers and Internet addresses, the Commerce's Telecommunications and Information Administration announced this week.

The Telephone Number Mapping protocol, or Enum, specifies how telephone numbers can be used as identifiers for e-mail and instant messages.

In a letter to the State Department, Assistant Secretary of Commerce Nancy Victory said the department would work with the Federal Communications Commission and the State Department to guide infrastructure development to support the addressing translations. It also called on the State Department to assist the International Telecommunication Union in resolving the remaining issues surrounding Enum standards.

According to Victory, 13 other nations have adopted the Enum standard.

The Enum protocol translates any phone number into an Internet address by reversing the digits and adding an "e164.arpa" domain suffix, according to an Enum information site sponsored by network registry service provider NeuStar Inc., Washington. The protocols also set the standards on how computer-based hosts can be assigned phone numbers.

With Enum protocols in place, an individual can be contacted by e-mail or instant message by a telephone number. Telephone users can call individuals with Internet-based phones, or dial into Internet servers that offer other Internet services. And people using Internet-based phones can more easily place calls outside the Internet.

More information on Enum can be found at www.enum.org.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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