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Mapping Phones To IP Addresses 52

There's an interesting article currently running about the joys of mapping phone numbers to IP addresses, and what that means. Also talks about LDAP directory implementation and other potential fun interactions. (CT: Does anyone else think it's horribly stupid to map numbers onto names which map onto other numbers? Dumb da dumb dumb).
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Mapping Phones to IP Addresses

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Shit!!! Damned DHCP Server changed my phone number again!!!!
  • It seems like it would be easy allocate an IPv6 subnet specifically for phone numbers. Say (yes, I'm aware that that IP address is invalid), then build IP phones that automatically fill in the first four octets so an end user could just enter a normal phone number. The class-F(?) subnets could then be divided up amongst the baby bells for allocation to business and residences. That way it would have support from the local phone companies (they'd still be making money) but everyone would save on long distance.
  • What about all those unfortunate people living under some kind of protection (police or voluntary). At least where I live you can have a unregistered phonenumber. Would this lead to a total information lock out? Hope not.
  • The kind that understands people like my father, who doesn't know anything about domain names, IP addresses, etc. He groks phone numbers.

    Taco asks if anyone else thinks mapping numbers to names to numbers is "horribly stupid"... The whole idea of domain names is to provide =one= way to make it easier for humans to access the system. There is nothing wrong with adding another.

    And there is already a mapping scheme in place to convert names to telephone numbers. 1-800-FLOWERS, 1-800-COLLECT, 1-888-TELL-FOX... In order for this scheme to work, it should handle the alphanumeric mapping


    to (yes, Taco) map the letters to (phone) numbers, to map the numbers to (DNS) letters, to map to (IP) numbers, to map to ARP numbers, to map to inodes, to map to sectors.... That's what we have operating systems and protocols for. Think of Encapsulation, Information-Hiding, and Buzzwords Like That. So that a computer-illiterate CEO doesn't have to know a thing about VoIP. He just dials the number to Taiwan, and lets the geeks take care of what's under the hood.
  • I work for a leading VOIP company and this similar to what i'm designing... imageing you have one phone number as a locator ID that is able to reach you anywere you are based on how you define it... more than a find me follow me service.. the potential for enhancements are almost limitless.. a complete unique way of contact... it allows you to be contacted and you can choose how they contact you based on rules you supply.. boss calls you one yer one number.. auto forward to voice mail or to your cell. etc etc.. the ability to recieve PHONE CALLS from the pstn world on your PC or IP phone via a normal 10 digit number(us ppl for now, later the world..) this article is very very basic.. but you'll see tons more like it soon.. it IS the next killer app... see ya there :)

    Peace & Love
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08, 2000 @09:24PM (#570949)
    Every time I dial it's busy!!!!

    And my call can not be completed as dialed!!!!!

    But when I dial *.*.*.255 it's a party line!!!!

  • by anticypher ( 48312 ) <anticypher&gmail,com> on Saturday December 09, 2000 @07:01AM (#570950) Homepage
    You've hit on the #1 problem with VoIP phones, the one most /.ers never seem to understand. Phone numbers!

    There are two large scale communication systems in the world today, the phone system, and the internet. The phone system is still a magnitude larger than the internet.

    Now the internet supports telephony, and there was even a recent discussion [] about IP dialtone. But where do you get your phone numbers? Just use IP addresses or URLs? How do you tie the two systems together, since the archaic telephone system can only address a string of numbers? IP addresses with the * key in place of a dot? No, you have to go to the lowest common denominator, phone numbers.

    As people have noticed with all the recent press on telephone renumbering plans [], the telephone world is growing by leaps and bounds as well. But unlike IPv4, which is hard coded to a 2^32 limit, the telephone system can expand forever by adding another digit to form new city codes and area codes. In every country, there is someone overseeing the assignment of blocks of telephone numbers, and in progressive countries, trying to ensure the established operator plays fairly with the new competition and everyone routes to everyone else's calls. Now, ISPs are being thrown into the mix.

    What happens when your techo-peasant mother wants to call you on your spiffy new IP telephone? She'll dial your telephone number, and somewhere in between her analog POTS line and your IP phone, there must be a transition gateway. Either the phone company or an ISP will run it, and somehow they will bill for the privilege.

    Nokia, Cisco, Lucent, Alcatel, Ericson, and hundreds of dotcom startups, all have some kind of SS7/IMT to VoIP gateway products on offer. I've set some up, they all require a solid, but schizophrenic, understanding of both worlds. If you thought there was a philisophical gap between Linux and Micro~1.oft, just try bridging the voice and data worlds.

    The hardest part is in obtaining a block of working phone numbers for each area, and getting a sympathetic telco to route calls. The next hardest part is in sorting out the billing. Who pays for terminating calls in each direction, and what happens when one system carries a toll call for the other. When /. ran an article [] last week about the Philippines charging for terminating VoIP calls, not one post seemed to show a clue as to why this rule came about. ObRant:I miss the old days when a large fraction of the /. posters were highly clued individuals :-)

    The obvious economic advantage lies in using IP to transport voice calls. Either simply, such as IP to IP calls which bypass local tolls, or in companies using part of their internet bandwidth to pass call to remote offices or partners on the internet.

    Career tip: Broadband companies are all desperately trying to create IP dialtone offerings, to help cut out the local telco monopoly. Learn VoIP, SS7, media gateway controllers, E.164 and SIP, and make a fortune selling your knowledge to cable and DSL companies.

    the AC
  • by StandardDeviant ( 122674 ) on Saturday December 09, 2000 @12:04AM (#570951) Homepage Journal

    I mean, just think, the next time some 313370 nd00d script kiddie tries to hack a machine you own [1], you could call up his mamma and tell her to spank them 'till their ass fell off. DoS = DuS (Dial Up Spanking)

    side note: friend of mine put a sound card in his openbsd firewall (sits in front of several semi-popular local websites), and hooked up ipmon's output to a perl script that looked for things that should be handled proactively (it also logged to syslog). Everytime a pattern occured that was probably a script kiddie, he had the script play a sound sample (system("/usr/bin/mpg123","./thunk.mp3") ) of a ripe melon hitting a board. The sound of script kiddies thunking into a wall was ... gratifying.


  • Too bad most of 9/8 is internal IBM machines...
  • just because it's simple doesn't mean it's a great idea. don't forget that there are loads of techno-morons out there who can't even use scandisk yet.

    if we imposed that type of phone system on them, we'd have a revolt of the unwashed masses! remember, we need to keep the rabble in line, and confusing them with their own phones will not foster good feelings or submission.

  • Since 1993 there's been a free standards-compliant worldwide internet to fax service at []. It allows one to send plain-text or with-specific-attachment-types email to This will get automagically converted to a fax & sent out via a participating member's local system.

    While it's not the scale of the discussion it's certainly out there & working.

    • General principles and policy: RFC 1530 []
    • Administrative policies: RFC 1529 []
    • Technical procedures: RFC 1528 []
  • Having a transition system is critical in deploying a new technology or migrating people to it.

    Agreed completely.

    Even beyond transitional needs, it also satisfies a more long term need. I may know a friend's name and phone number, and what domains he has. However, Which IP address amongst the several under his control will have a VoIP daemon running on it? Probably the one that he mapped to his phone number. What if his IP is dynamic? Unlike names, phone numbers are unique identifiers of a place (where the phone is). It's as good as any unique ID and will probably be needed even after all phones are updated to VoIP (probably about five minutes before the heat death of the universe). IPv6 addresses could be used as well as long as dynamic addressing is strictly prohibited and the current requirement that the node address be globally unique (which may be in conflict with privacy needs).

    At some point, people may need to password protect their VoIP phones as well. It's bad enough that telemarketers can buy your phone number so they can abuse it while you are trying to enjoy dinner, but imagine getting a telemarketer call about the banner ad that just popped up on your browser.People may prefer using an alternate number that cannot be guessed based on your IP address (like current phone numbers) and require verification that the connection to the daemon was referred to the IP address by a phone number lookup (some sort of auth token).

  • If you have so much free time as to waste it flaming me, why dont you waste it on something thats marginally worthwile like getting your MCSE

    it is also quite apparent that nobody gives a fuck about you, because if they did you would be with them, and not flaming me.

    jeves, fetch me my fire extenguisher, we have a flamer to club..

    karma to hell Figght the flamers
  • A long time ago, Carl Malamud and Marshal Rose came up with a novel system for mapping phone numbers to hostnames. Go to [] for more info. It was an internet-based free worldwide faxing service. A quick summary of the convention they use:

    • Phone numbers are heirarchical by country code, then by area code or city code in larger countries, then by phone number. The number of digits in a phone number aren't ever the same from country to country. The domain name system reverses heirarchy (right to left). Given these constraints, they came up with the convention of If I take a typical US phone number like
    • +1-212-555-6789, the host name mapping for it would be: .
    Something similar could be used for addressing host names to people's cell phones for messaging or other mobile phone-addressable devices. I doubt people themselves will ever map a phone number to this reversed notation, but software could do it automatically for them.

    /dev/earth is 98% full, please remove people immediately

  • From my K5 article [] from some time ago, Australian company Nascomms [] has patents pending on technology to convert phone numbers into URLs. They've redesigned their page, but at one stage they were claiming to have invented numeric Internet addresses.
  • DNS names are mapped to IP addresses, which are then usually mapped to MAC addresses in an ARP table. Not too horribly stupid if you ask me...

    - Mike Hughes
  • It's really going to suck when "PhoneNumber V6" comes out and phone numbers are suddenly 20 times longer than they used to be.... ;)
  • The point wouldn't be to subject the user to entering IP6 addresses; that would be ludicrous. Instead, a computer (or dedicated device) could take a phone number as input, and without needing to access any sort of domain service, be able to determine a hardware address on the internet matching that phone number. If in the future the phone system were subsumed by the internet, with IP to the location and a voice-over-IP converter acting as the phone, this would be an easy way to administer such a system.

    I'm not saying a DNS-based lookup system wouldn't be preferable; I can see a number of cases where such systems would solve problems (rerouting a number when a person moves, for instance). I still think reserving room in IP6 space would be worthwhile. The systems would complement each other.
  • C:\Linux Sux>ping

    Pinging with 32 bytes of data:

    Reply from Destination host unreachable.
    Reply from Destination host unreachable.
    Reply from Destination host unreachable.
    Reply from Destination host unreachable.

    C:\Linux Sux>ping

    Pinging with 32 bytes of data:

    Reply from Destination host unreachable.
    Reply from Destination host unreachable.
    Reply from Destination host unreachable.
    Reply from Destination host unreachable.

    Damn, I really wanted those two IPs! =:-p
  • A Mobile Wireless Webserver??

    These days, nobody gives a second thought when they make a phone call to enquire information, chat casually or communicate. The called party is reached directly by a mobile or fixed phone. This was the age of voice communications, but as the future is data & voice integration, a personal (maybe business) mobile wireless webserver may be the next form mobile phones will take.

    More on the latest information on this project at; []

    Quiezent F.

  • by zoftie ( 195518 )
    Once we get IPv6 rolling, we shall consider this thing very seriously. Do it via DNS,
    DNS may be modified to handle dynamic phone numbers etc. Or other doohickie can be invented to
    handle transition.
    I say IPv6 because(as far as I remember) IPv6 will
    be more controlling in terms of spoofing IPs and
    will have QoS.
    The threat here of course is DDOS, where legitimate computers are infected and send legitimate data to the IP phone.
  • [] goes to the Macatawa Area Community Network home page. I'm sure they'll apprciate the hits, Taco! :)

  • But do they have a patent on it yet?

  • I used to work for a company that is now part of Nokia. It had that very voice over ip product 2 years ago. Use any analog phone on your data network. see zd net []
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Friday December 08, 2000 @08:21PM (#570968) Homepage Journal
    Wow.. won't this make spamming people that much easier? Thanks for the email address, I'll just do an LDAP lookup and give you a call, see if you want to buy random good/service. What? I can use the Internet to make those telephone calls and all I have to pay for is bandwidth? It's just like email!
  • But to just sweep this away at first glance because "well, you're just translating from one number to another number" is .. i have to use the word ridiculous again.


    From what I read in the article, the project wasn't useful just because it linked a phone number, but because it made that information accessible to both sides of the network.

    As a standalone database, this wouldn't be much more than a curiosity, or good practice in huge distributed systems. It's when it's linked to other 'bridging' services that it becomes incrediby useful.

    And, honestly, I don't see those bridging services getting as much attention as they could.

  • one dollar says that the site goes down due to the slashdot effect.
  • I'm not sure if I understand the need for this system.

    As suggested by other above, the most beneficial use of the system would be transition. There will come a time in the future when people won't want to have two systems for receiving phone calls, but we wont all switch over to IP at the same time.

    Smooth transition should also help the large telcos who will eventually see a stop in their subscriber growth followed by a steady death march downward as more and more people move to communicating by alternatives to conventional telephone service. (Probably just a dream, but a nightmare without someway to pad the fall if it happens.)

  • I doubt any end user will see a DNS name when they are trying to dial a number - the phone (or VoIP enabled app) will just let them dial a number, and the DNS lookups happen behind the scenes.
  • I dialed when I meant to dial and now the cops are at my house!
  • I do see why it's so dumb. At least for now...

    People should all know that we are running out of IP addresses. We shouldn't be throwing them around like mad. We need to save what is left. I think this would be a great idea to do with IPV6.

    No, there isn't a migration path to bring phones in line with newer technologies. But I really feel we need to do it right the first time. Just imagine if everyone started using IPV4 phones... We'd run out in no time. You can get a cheap computer for about 800$ but a cheap phone costs about 10$. Even with modifications, many people may choose to switch to the "digital phone".

    I feel that all people inventing these great new technologies should really think it fully through. Make something that will last. Use IPV6. If people would start using it, more people would have support for it. But I suppose we really have to run out before people realize.
  • Check out the Session Initiation Protocol []. Its the competing protocol against H.323 (blah). It supports mapping names to phone numbers, phone numbers to names, phone numbers to webpages, etc.
  • The idea that there's a huge shortage of IPv4 addresses is a myth. According to even the most aggressive growth estimates, we have enough for at least the next ten years.

    The reason there's such a push for IPv6 is simplification of routing tables. Under the current system, could be on one continent and could be on another. IPv6 is much more hierarchical.


  • You know you are a geek when:
    You pick up the phone and dial an IP address...

    I always thought that one was supposed to be a joke even though I've done it before when calling a computer room I dialed the IP of the server for the room. Maybe it won't be a joke anymore... Seems like a waste of IP addresses to me though until we completely switch to IPv6. Then it shouldn't matter if we waste them or not.
  • I believe that is what Cisco is doing with their IP Phone System... Only it's not free and I think it is available only for Win32 and Solaris. But the telephone does have a builtin server and you can access most, if not all functions through the software you load on your PC. I saw a demo of the technology at a "Network On Wheels" 18-wheeler truck that Cisco was driving around the country to show off its new gear...
  • by uradu ( 10768 )
    You first fallacy was thinking that Britney would have any interest whatsoever in your phone number. The second was in your even uttering her name.
  • Okay, YOU try remembering f00f:dcc3:b489:2ad5:cd00:39ae when you try to call dominoes! Even i you anaged to get a nationwide phone network all using ipv6 addressing, and decided to use one fill class for telephony, and therefore implied the first one or two tetrets in all telephony dials you'd still have to remember the other 4 or 5 of the tetrets! Moreover, you'd need new fones or find a retromod for existing ones to make them compatible with the network, like having to dial 46217*10965*52480*14766 to call your neigbor!

    Of course, once we start doing that, we'll get ip-happy. Before you know it, the post office will change their addressing scheme to ip-v6! There won't be any more zip codes (YAY!). On the other hand, there won't be anymore street names, and towns will just be represented by a unique tetret within a class a network! The credit card companies will convert to ipv6; not with any benefit - they just felt left out! And it will all culminate with the us. government switching social security to IPv6. Every person in america will be given their own IP for the sole purpose of geographical tracking. Bio-electrical GPS tranxievers will be inserted into us after we relize that our celphones phones have had them for years and we shun them for fear of bigbrother!



    ... uhhh... sorry. I forgot to take my medicine this morning and the lack of stimulation at work seems to have pushed meover the edge.

  • strangely reminiscent of this [].
    There's probably going to be more and more effet put into tying together the Internet and the PSTN. I wonder what methods are going to make the most headway?
  • Could I have port 15 please? Yes, I'd like mozilla 0.6 source please.

    Alrighty here you go, #include
  • I think you could map all of the phone numbers in the world into the IP6 space without too much trouble... It might be worthwhile to reserve the space for just that.
  • Now if they made some sort of internet phone client that connected from the users PC directly to the phone, by IP address (or name!) that would be cool. Sort of like Dial Pad, but bypassing a remote server. Each cellphone IS the server.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08, 2000 @08:27PM (#570985)
    See RFC2916 []. This describes how to map E.164 numbers (telephone numbers) in the DNS. The primary purpose is so that you can email your phone (for example), but there is nothing to stop this system mapping a phone number to a WWW page. Unfortunately this RFC uses the existing reverse-DNS .arpa domain so the phone numbers are written BACKWARDS! Not very friendly.
  • I believe that this was discussed a few weeks ago when an austrailian company began selling this as a service? Any one else remember this? No? Guess i was dreaming again... It is always colder than it seems...
  • >from the i'd-like-to-call- dept. maps to which is some sort of usergroup/comunity network in Holland MI, home town of the /. crew.

    Makes you wonder what sort of easter eggs are hidden throughout slashdot, or if this is just a rare occurance and the /. editors aren't so the level of Poe for underlying meanings as this dept mention may make them apear.

    Unfortunatly 394-4689 does not map to


    Tyranny =Gov. choosing how much power to give the People.

  • Wow.. won't this make spamming people that much easier? Thanks for the email address, I'll just do an LDAP lookup and give you a call

    LDAP has a high-precision security model. It would be trivial to mark certain attributes as public and restrict others.

    Most LDAP systems store the very usernames/passwords they use to authenticate users in their own data set! That should give you an idea how common and well-tested it is to mark LDAP fields as private.


  • Possible uses for this as listed in the article:

    • Routing voice and fax traffic over the Internet
    • Enabling automatic reply to voicemail messages
    • Delivering content to wireless devices

    I'm not sure if I understand the need for this system. Routing voice traffic is already done on a daily basis ( []). Automatic reply to voicemail messages is certainly something that exists already, and it seems everybody I know has some sort of wireless content service on their cellphone or PDA already.

    What a directory like this could more likely be used for is marketing. Every night of the week, right when I sit down for dinner, I get a pointless marketing call from some schmoe who wants to sell me aluminum siding, or give me a great deal on a home loan. Yeah, this is just what need, now all those marketing people will be able to page me and leave me voicemails as well.

    Would you like to pet my Penguin? The Linux Pimp []

  • Just think if this took off how phone companies would die down! Hell no need for telephone just add everything to the internet and BAM, less bills. So what could we as a whole make the internet?
  • One dollar says that I know the behavior of the /. community all too well, and that I'm not a Jew.
  • by Mike Schiraldi ( 18296 ) on Friday December 08, 2000 @08:12PM (#570992) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone else think it's horribly stupid to map numbers onto names which map onto other numbers? Dumb da dumb dumb

    I don't see why it's dumb, so you're going to have to back up your argument with a little more than a song.

    Having a transition system is critical in deploying a new technology or migrating people to it. (Microsoft understands this very well, but that's a topic for another day) People aren't going to just say "Well, there are telephones on the Internet. I guess i can throw out my old phone." It's the whole chicken-and-egg thing.

    Or more accurately, the chicken-and-another-chicken thing. Think- who bought the first telephone? The first fax machine? Why is everyone sticking with ICQ and Napster when better alternatives exist?

    Because there is no migration path. We need something like this so that the old phones can use the new system and the new phones can use the old system. It also allows hybrid phones to be made.

    But to just sweep this away at first glance because "well, you're just translating from one number to another number" is .. i have to use the word ridiculous again.

    I hope this doesn't get me branded "Flamebait", or worse, "Troll."


  • So maybe the spammer has to pay a yearly access fee to the database. It would be worth it.
  • Routing would be a pain though... it's already getting increasingly difficult now, image what it's going to be like then.
  • spammers pay a fortune for "targeted" email lists.. I fail to see why an additional charge to get the phone numbers of all those email addresses would be unlikely.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky