Thursday, October 21, 2004

Fall VON 2004 - Day 3 - Highlights

This day was again starting early: 8:30 am

Ibecause I did not want to miss the breakout session on "Roaming between WiFi and GSM Networks"

The reason is that I consider always-on access to the Internet from personal devices as the most important item in future telecommunications both for business and private customers. The success of mobile phones all over the wolrd is a strong indication. If you add on top of this the success of WiFi and add the two things together, merge SMS/MMS and IM, take the contact list from mobile phones sync'd with Outlook and improved by presence, add in addition GPS and location based services, and eventually smart-cards, SIM-cards, USIMs and RFID, you have some idea of the future of the enduser device. Just look what the kids (the smart-mobs) are doing.

Of course users, especially women, will have more then one device, because it will be not fashionable to go with your sub-notebook or PDA to a dinner date, you will wear instead a small geeky Japanese designer mobile phone or even a wearablle comm device, but the complete profile will be transfered easily with a combined smart-card holding your identity and a 1 GB SD-card holding your important data (the rest of your private 1TB will be accessible via the Internet anyway, just in case)

Gary Tauss, CEO from Longboard, having already implemented the first services and devices in Japan (Onephone), pointed out the key issues:

One number (sounds familiar for me) is one service across all networks, even a call is not interrrupted if you cross networks.

It starts with the now emerging dual-mode handsets (WiFi and GPRS) and is providing IP centrex functionality, because the first adoptors are enterprises using GSM out-doors and WiFI within the company.

One basic trick for seamless service integration is the usage of SIP signalling also over GSM GPRS.

He also has a business model in place to recover the minute loss on WiFi, it is simply a fixed monthly service fee.

The service will give another blow to the current regulatory structure with cross subsidies, and different fixed and mobile termination charges, because it will the consumers choice if he selects the mobile or the fixed number as his one number to get the same service.

Steve Blumenthal, Sr VP, Bridgeport added to this the emerging standards UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) to GSM and GPRS mobile services over unlicensed spectrum technologies (I am sure that WiMAX will also be included), including Bluetooth and 802.11.

By deplaying UMA technology, service providers can enable subscribers to roam and handover between cellular networks and wireless networks. He also mentioned 3GPP and IMS and TISPAN IMS for fixed networks (this was BTW the first time that IMS was mentioned at the VON - also interesting)

After this first morning session my problem started and this is really my only complaint about the VON:

It is getting too big and less would be more.

One one side you have the excellent presentations and you have to miss some of them anyway because of parallel sessions, various side meetings because you meet everybody here. But there is in addition the biggest exhibition ever and you have at least make one round.

Some people also agreed with me that the opening hours (although extended on monday this time) should be extended until 8pm.

So I decided to make my round and it took me 4 hours. The next problem was taht after the 4 hours I was so exhausted that I could not stand physically and mentally tt visit the rest of the afternoon sessions - and the e-mails need also to be checked.

And one needs to recover for the Conference Party ;-)

Regarding the exhibition in detail, this is the next problem. You can only talk in detail to a certain amount of people, the rest is grabbing of flyers.

Here another side remark: many companies present products without any documentation, not even a flyer and if you ask, if some information is available at least at the webpage, you sometimes get the answer: no, only in (ranging from two weeks to half a year). I understand this e.g. with small companies showing off a hardware prototype, but I do not understand this with large companies showing a (nice) IP centrex solution and and have no documentation and also telling me that the service will be available in half a year.

The problem here is that after 200 stands you have no idea what company told you what.

My general expression: IP phones, terminal adapters in all variants, home gateways with FXO, FXS, with and without routers, ADSL modems, WiFI etc. are exploding. This is continuing upwards to SoHO equipment, SME equipment, gateways for large companies up to carrier gateways, including gadgets (devices nobody really needs, but is willing to spend money on - e.g. session border controller, etc).

Every company originally starting on one end or with one product seems to expand to provide the full range.

It is interesting that now also DECT phones with SIP basestations (TA) are showing up, the battery life of WiFI is still a serious problem.

Video telephone is mainly availble as addition to softpones (product names mainly starting with eye whatever - video seems not to be fashionable), but also some hardphones can be seen.

The most fashionable (and expensive) piece is definitely the Ojo from Motorola, with a cordless handset, the design could be from B&O. It will be out on Thanksgiving, just in time for Xmas -; e.g as present from Bill Gates to his wife and his mother-in-law.

Since it is not SIP, you have to by in addition a monthly service to interoperate with the rest of the world to make normal phone calls.

I was also interested in integrated solutions for providers and enterprises, e.g. the LCS and related products from MS, Openscape, IP Centrex solutions interworking with Outlook, etc. but this is another story.

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