IP exchange (IPX) was the key talking point at the GSMA's annual Asia-Pacific gathering of roaming and interconnect representatives last week in Bangkok.
Some wholesale carriers and vendors touted the benefits of a single connection to deliver multiple services -- including signaling, voice, SMS and data.
They pitched the IPX as a type of private VPN that offers increased control, transparency, scalability and better QoS.
John Sullivan from Telecom New Zealand said the improved voice quality encourages people to talk longer and can boost revenue.
While no one is arguing that negotiating direct connections aren't costly, particularly for small players, not everyone was buying into it. One wholesale rep bluntly asked a panel, "What is IPX? You still haven't sold me on the benefits of moving off what I'm using now."
Another large wholesale player noted on the sidelines that on the one hand operators have more control in how traffic is routed, and perhaps could remove a hop or two, but "you're still going through at least two parties -- the vendor and his [backbone] partner -- and often one other operator."
There also were fears raised that IPX could drive away IDD traffic. Stuart Thornton, iBasis Asia-Pacific sales director, said the move from a transaction-based model to a services-based model was a "great concept, but faced a number of difficulties in commercial areas."
Trying to outline its objective, John Wick from Syniverse Technologies simply said: "IPX is an attempt to revolutionize voice interconnect, but we're not there yet."
He said he's seen more activity in the last 18 months than in the previous seven to eight years.
Eric Masseboeuf from Orange Wholesale said the increased interest is being driven by operators now having more IP at the core and as well as new apps, such as HD voice.
He says operators see it as a way to prepare for all IP networks and avoid competition from the over-the-top (OTT) players in the future.