The differences between the telephone system and the internet blurred more today as Nominet, the .uk domain name registry, was awarded the contract to run the top tier registry for UK ENUM, a standard that will unify the telephone numbering system with the internet's Domain Name System.
The move offers the prospect of cheaper or free calls for all telephony users as differences between VoIP servers are resolved.
ENUM is a suite of protocols that makes it possible to relate a domain name to a telephone number, and then use that domain name to identify various communications devices such as fax, mobile phone, voice-mail, e-mail, IP telephony addresses or web pages.
The BERR (formerly the DTI) set up UK ENUM Consortium (UKEC) to administer the UK ENUM top level domain. UKEC awarded the Tier 1 registry contract to Nominet. Nominet will now join the International Telecommunication Union, Telecommunication Standardisation Sector, ITU-T.
ENUM allows different VoIP servers to link so that telephones that use VoIP technology can connect via the internet to other devices that use other VoIP providers. As a result, calls between VoIP users will be much cheaper or free, because there is no need to connect to the telephone network for the call.
Although it facilitates calling VoIP users from IP and PSTN networks, ENUM is not a VoIP function and is different to common VoIP routing based on SIP, H.323 or IAX protocols with a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI).