Friday, May 27, 2005

Wrap-up from VON Europe 2005 

Before I go into detail posting on the Telecom Policy Europe Session on Monday and the very interesting ENUM Update on Thursday, I want to give my general impressions from the VON Europe first.

As Jeff already pointed out:

In the end, our event ended up bringing together more than 2,500 people from 65+ countries, representing more than 1,000 companies. The VoIP Buzz was pretty loud this week in Stockholm where about 60 press announcements were made.

In addition, there where 130+ companies presenting at the exhibition.

Visiting the VONs both in the US and Europe for some years, I can only say that I am impressed. Although the VON events in the US are still twice the size, I think VoIP in Europe is gaining speed and catching up very fast. Up to now it was only recognized by experts that the VoIP scene in Europe is well advanced and in some aspects even more advanced than in the US and Asia, but since it was driven mainly by small up-starts (surprisingly un-typical for Europe), both on the supply and provider side, it was not on the radar of the large providers (telcos) and also not for the press and the public.

This seems to change now and the VON and Jeff's effort is a main driver here.

Just one example: In the bag usually distributed at the VON was beside the well known flyers from the sponsors also a copy of this weeks BusinessWeek, featuring on the cover the 25 Stars of Europe (Agendasetters-Managers-Financiers-Innovators)

Two (or three?) out of the 25 stars have a relation to broadband and VoIP and I have a slight suspicion this was the reason why the issue was in the bag in the first place:

1. Ben Verwaayen, the Dutch(!) CEO from BT Group as Agenda Setter listed under "Strike up the Broadband"
2. and of course Niklas Zennstom, the Swedish CEO of Skype as innovator listed under "Disruptive Telecom"(!)
3. I am am not sure if I should count also Bo Vesterdorf; president, Court of First Instance, Luxembourg, listed as agenda setter under "The man who said NO to Microsoft" ;-)

This clearly shows the public awareness broadband and VoIP is getting in Europe.

The basic problem of the VONs remain, you have to split up yourself into three parts to see the presentations, the exhibition and to do the networking.

Especially the last thing was very important this time, not only for me, I have heard this from others too. Since this time many newcomers where here the first time at a VON, one was busy beside the normal networking (exchanging news with old friends) with making new friends, asking questions and responding to questions.

So I missed many presentations on Wednesday and Thursday (even nearly my own ;-) by having one side-meeting after the other, talking and being talked to.

In addition there was the largest and busiest exhibition ever in Europe, so one had to spend some time there and most of the time the stands where very crowded.

I will report on the Telecom Policy Europe and also on the ENUM Update in separate entires, and I do not need to go extensively over the main session on Tuesday morning, because these presenations have already been covered by others, e.g. by Steve, by other bloggers and of course in the press..

Just a short re-cap: Jeff opened as usual with his warm-up on Shift Happens, giving the directions. Interesting for me also the presenation from Alain Von Gaever from the Commission, as a follow-up to the Telecom Policy Europe session on Monday. Alain did not present on Monday, but was there all day and actively participating in the discussions, and he tried to answer some of the issues from Moday in his presentation. I will come back to this presenation later.

I do not need to say anything about the presenation from Niklas Zennstrom on Skype, the crowd in the room peaked, and what he said is all over the blogs and the press.

I just want to pick out one statement from Niklas I consider very interesting (or curious).

Niklas requested:
  • Provide open interface to emergency centrals which can receive text, voice and video over IP
  • Build up national IP geo mapping databases managed by national authorities
I will come back on emergency service issues later, and basically IETF ECRIT is already working on this, but what I consider curious is that Niklas requests open(!) interfaces.

Hear! Hear! Maybe Niklas or somebody from Skype will show up on the ECRIT mailing-list or even at one of the next IETF Meetings (Paris, France would be a good place). Niklas, if you want to contribute, you are welcome ;-)

The morning session was closed by James Enck, excellent in content, slidewise and also presented by James.

I agree with Steve that this was the best presentation of the whole week (at least from what I have attended) and many others I asked shared this opinion. What is always refreshing with James (also on his blog) is that he is viewing as securities expert the whole scene from a different (non-technical) angle and therefore always providing new insights.

Jeff is thinking about two VONs in Europe next year and I wish him that each one will be larger than this one.

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