Unified Communications Working Group

Chair : Bill Efthimiou [ bill.efthimiou AT aarnet.edu.au]
SIP Peering Co-ordinator : Main Profile profile for Nimal Ratnayake
Mailing List: 
uc AT apan.net


The APAN Unified Communications Working Group builds on the work of the APAN SIP Working group that had been established to enable the APAN community to adopt open source SIP based services for low to zero cost Voice and Video calls over the APAN IP based network. Over time many manufacturers have developed a suite of services for both the H.323 and SIP protocols, in general H.323 has traditionally driven Video services whilst SIP has been the domain of Voice services. These platforms are converging.

There has been significant vendor push into the Unified Communications area that continues to result in a broad range of rich media collaboration services being made available to the enterprise. End users can collaborate by checking another's presence status to see if he or she is busy, then having the option to instant message (chat), make a voice call or a video call either point-to-point or in a multi-point conference where presentations can be shared.

As the Education and Research community become increasingly global, the immense opportunity these applications bring to the APAN community cannot be underestimated. National Education and Research Networks have the opportunity to both roll out and engineer their IP networks, but at the same time co-develop enabling infrastructure for that IP network to be able to support collaboration in new meaningful ways at little to no cost. This opportunity will help to drive closer more regular national, regional and global collaboration efforts that can help raise education standards and allow more researcher engagement and outcomes than ever before.

In order to achieve that goal a coordinated effort to engineer the APAN network is required to:

  1. Educate and train engineers in best practice design, development, deployment, operate and management of national Unified Communications infrastructures.
  2. Coordinate national Unified Communications infrastructures in a central/federated way so that services can interoperate together seamlessly in simple ways for NRENs to manage and for their customers and their end users to access and use.
  3. Ensure that any such solution is delivered in a cost effective way that can drive the adoption and use of services across the APAN and other NREN networks.
  4. Partner with both the open source community and commercial vendors to help develop interoperable solutions through co-development, interoperability testing and donations.
  5. Establish an operational and development talent pool to maintain services and develop new ones.

Whilst Skype may be a suitable alternative, its peer-to-peer nature means it cannot be guaranteed to traverse the APAN or other NREN networks. Thus incurring bandwidth costs. Skype is proprietary, therefore cannot be controlled and interoperability will be an ongoing issue. The APAN UC Working group acknowledges the usability and reach of Skype. We strive to offer a service that can leverage off the investments made in the APAN network, on NREN networks and UC service investments at the enterprise, with access to high speed high bandwidth networks.

This group has the opportunity to drive service developments in a lead role that can help in turn drive national service developments. The group will work and act as a broker of talent, technology and vendors where possible enabling innovation to bring together today's most used communications services such as SIP, H.323, XMPP, HTML5 alongside cloud based services (such as, Skype, Google, etc) and other protocols/services that may be of interest. The group needs to garner critical mass in terms of engineering a network infrastructure solution and service enablement platform that these services can take advantage off. As unified communications reaches an established level of maturity the group hopes that each APAN member can make a contribution and help make a difference and showcase the APAN and TEIN investments across the region.

Participation in the working group is open to any APAN member. In addition, the group aims to foster communication with other similar groups in the international Research & Education sector.

Members are encouraged to join the mailing list. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to send them to the group mailing list [ uc AT apan.net ]

Unified Communications Working Group Charter

Voice and Video communications have been growing within Research and Education institutions for several years, based on the H.323 and SIP protocols.

SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) is the IETF standard for the establishment of multimedia sessions. These sessions might be used for audio, video, instant messaging or other real-time data communications sessions.

This Working Group aims to help coordinate efforts in APAN towards the development and establishment of Unified Communications as an efficient and effective communications technology, and to inform and educate potential users about the technology.

Activities of the Working Group will be designed to promote discussion, foster the sharing of information, encourage testing and development of technologies and applications, and promote international collaborations.

Goals of the Unified Communications Working Group :

  • Assist in Development of SIP in APAN Members
  • Tutorials to build SIP servers, identify and involve local organisations at the APAN Meetings.
  • Maintain Web page on APAN Unified Communications Working Group
  • Co-ordinate SIP Peering between Members and Internationally
  • Co-ordinate investigations by APAN members into signaling related protocols, such as SIP, H.323, XMPP, etc.
  • Co-ordinate H.323 peering (Gatekeeper peering within APAN and Internationally)
  • Studies into the interworking of signaling protocols as well as other multimedia related/supporting infrastructures, such as ENUM
  • Co-ordinate Services, such as sharing ISDN Gateways and MCU/Conference Servers.
  • Promote QoS between Members and Countries, and Liaise as appropriate.

Example activities

  • Trials and demonstrations to raise awareness
  • Liaison with other organisations and working groups
  • Exploration of network design issues
  • Promotion of emerging applications

Relationships with other organisations/working groups

Establish relationships with similar organisations and with other Working Groups to collaborate on new developments in communications technology.


  • Subscribe and contribute to the Unified Communications WG email list.
  • Attend the APAN Meetings, either in person or via Video Conferencing using SIP and or H.323.
  • Get involved with one of the projects, or suggest a new one.

Member Projects

Please feel free to submit details of projects that your member organisation is working on. The working group aims to develop a spirit of co-operation amongst APAN members who are working with H.323 and SIP for the mutual benefit of all participants.


  • Join an active project
  • Charter a new project
  • Engage in the mailing list discussions
  • Attend the APAN meetings in person or via video

Vendors are also very welcome to contribute, however please refrain from using the mailing list as an advertising medium for your products. If you're unsure if material is suitable for posting to the mailing list, please send to the Working Group Chair first.

Mailing List

The mailing list is availabe for all APAN members who have an interest in (but not limited to) Voice, Video, TelePresence, presence, instant messaging using the SIP, H.323, XMPP or any other standards based protocols. To sign up, please click on this "Subscribe Link"

Member Projects

Please feel free to submit details of projects that your member organisation is working on. The working group aims to develop a spirit of co-operation amongst APAN members who are working with H.323 and SIP for the mutual benefit of all participants.

Project 1: SIP Peering between APAN Members

This project is providing a peering point to route E.164 calls between APAN Members.

Dialling telephone numbers is fundamental to :

  • Joining conferences on Multi Point Conference units (MCUs).
  • Peering with the telephone network means advanced networks must also be able to.
  • Telephones still only have numeric key pads, and will for the forseable future.


Use a SIP Server in the core of APAN to which other APAN Members peer to provide collaboration between Members using E.164 (telephone number) style dialing.

  1. APAN Members advise APAN what E.164 number ranges they support, the preference would be for one Member in each Country (the country NREN) to support the whole number range for the country.
  2. APAN Member route E.164 calls to APAN.
  3. APAN routes calls to appropriate destination.

How to get involved

  1. Join the APAN Unified Communications Working Group email list.
  2. Build a SIP Server.
  3. Peering with APAN SIP Server
  4. Co-ordinate other SIP Servers in your country.

Who can join

Any APAN member can join this project.

There are many good resources, a few of which are listed below. Please feel free to contribute any links you feel are appropriate by sending e-mail to the working group list.

Last Updated: 

2018 Sep 20