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ENUM: it's the new telephone number, but it's going nowhere fast

Darren Murph
January 19, 2010
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We've heard (ever-so-briefly) about ENUM before, which is generally described as an IETF-sanctioned standard for converting traditional phone numbers into IP addresses. But for the most part, even techies would say that they aren't exactly up to speed on what the protocol offers and / or promises. ArsTechnica has spent a good while underneath the mire, and it has arisen with an in-depth article that spells out how the standard can neatly collate a variety of contact options (email address, mobile number, home line, Facebook account, ICQ name, etc.) into a single address that's recognizable by the internet that we so dearly love. In fact, user ENUM even has the capability to rank contact options by priority, so you could hit someone up via the mobile first and their Twitter account second should they not answer. The issue, however, is that the '"ENUM standard (RFC 3761) demands that ENUM is a public service and that the control of the telephone number lies in the hands of the end-user," and it doesn't take an economist to understand why ISPs and carriers wouldn't be fond of this. Indeed, just nine nations have an ENUM registry in production, and the future isn't looking too bright for the rest of us. Don't fret, though -- chances are Google will have this whole "multiple contact" thing ironed out before the next decade rolls around.

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