Together, Microsoft And Cisco Work To Improve VoIP

Microsoft and Cisco Systems announced Thursday that they will jointly support the Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) methodology, which would enable VoIP to work better across networks.

November 10, 2005

2 Min Read
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Aiming to remove one of the key hurdles to widespread adoption of VoIP, Microsoft and Cisco Systems announced Thursday that they will support the Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) methodology, which facilitates communications across networks.

The adoption of VoIP has been slowed in some markets by difficulties encountered by SIP-based VoIP calls attempting to communicate across network-address translators (NATs). The action also focuses on Microsoft's efforts to deliver VoIP through its software offerings.

The firm has included VoIP capability in its Windows CE operating system for handheld devices and many expect enhanced VoIP capability to be included in its Vista OS, scheduled for delivery next year.

"Finding a way for VoIP to work better across NATs and firewalls is a problem that is faced across the industry," said Microsoft's Gurdeep Singh Pall in a statement. "Microsoft and Cisco are encouraging our industry partners to utilize the ICE methodology to ensure more consistent, reliable experiences for our customers, and to improve Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based VoIP interoperability across networks." Pall is corporate vice president for the Office Real-Time Collaboration Group at Microsoft.

Although it's not yet official, the ICE methodology is scheduled to be voted on this week by the Internet Engineering Task Force, an international community that seeks to keep the Internet running smoothly.Microsoft's partnership with Cisco is significant because the networking firm enjoys a near ubiquitous presence on the Internet worldwide. In a statement, Cisco's senior vice president of the Voice Technology Group Don Proctor said: "With service providers increasingly deploying converged voice-and-data services based on SIP, Microsoft's and Cisco's endorsement of ICE standards bodes well for our mutual customers."

NATs, which have played an important role in improving Web security, have nevertheless been a consistent problem for VoIP and video connectivity because they often block voice and video streams.

"Many proprietary media services traverse NATs by tunneling using HTTP or Port 80," Microsoft and Cisco stated, "but this approach is not as security-enhanced, robust or scalable as the ICE methodology."

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