ITSPA, the trade body for the next generation communications industry has welcomed the release of guidance produced by NICC for the use and secure implementation of SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) ALG (Application Layer Gateways).
SIP ALG is a feature often enabled in routers to prevent some of the problems that can be caused by Network Address Translation (NAT) and Firewall functions interfering with the SIP traffic. This can be particularly problematic for VoIP calls, causing phone registrations, inbound calls and call transfers to fail. Currently, many routers are shipped with SIP ALG enabled as default with very little straight forward guidance to disable this feature. This causes huge disruption for consumers and is incredibly time consuming and expensive for both ITSPs and ISPs to resolve.
NICC (the technical forum for the UK communications sector that develops interoperability standards for public communications networks and services in the UK) has recently produced guidance that recommends:
- SIP ALGs being be disabled by default
- SIP ALGs being easily configurable (i.e. to be disabled/enabled) by end users as part of the normal administration of the equipment
- Configuration status displays should clearly indicate that a SIP ALG is either disabled or enabled
Reacting to the news, Eli Katz, Chair of ITSPA stated “Our members are extremely pleased that NICC has worked up useful formal guidance for the industry to consider. This is an issue that has long been a problem for ITSPA members. We produced a position paper about SIP ALG, which we took to NICC. We are very pleased that they decided to undertake a review into this area, resulting in the production of this beneficial guidance”.
The next steps will be to educate the industry and particularly router manufacturers to consider this guidance when developing new products.
Katz stated “The problems around SIP ALG hurts us all but particularly consumers who understandably find these technical issues incredibly frustrating. The aim now is to educate the Internet industry to ensure that future router purchases bare this guidance in mind and resolve these unnecessary problems.”