Thursday, September 22, 2005

Fall VON Day 2 

I know, I know, I am a bit behind schedule, but the VON is such a busy place (as always), so it is hard to keep up with blogging, and so I have to rely on the other bloggers to keep you informed.

Day 2 started for me with Jeff's perspective: A Summer of Transformation. I have to agree, what happend during this summer is unbelievable. You go on vacation and if you come back, the world has changed. I think also Jeff was taken a bit by surprise with the eBay/Skype/Paypal deal.

Next he covered the Katrina desaster and that again the Internet and VoIP was the only thing that worked (somehow).

He then stated again the Internet freedoms somehow lost recently (in Washington) and the goals of the Global IP Alliance. He is also planning to pep-up FWD again. Interesting the re-launch of 1-500 personal numbers in the US. Here he has the same problem we have in Austria with our number ranges 720 and 780. 1-500 is currently only routed by MCI. The empire tries to strike back.

Finally he presented the VON Schedule for 2006 and some are asking themselves if he is not overdoing it now: there will be now three VONs in the US, plus one in Canada and Mexico, 4 in Europe (London, Stockholm, Berlin and Moscow) and one in Asia. This may be too much for the poor exhibitors.

Next in the ballroom was Eugene Roman from Bell Canada. Related to an incumbent, this was a very interesting presentation for me. It seems that BCE has got the message (at least at the top) how a telco can survive. The question remains, if they will be able to implement these vision in reality. This was a presentation I will distribute within my company.

This presentation was followed by Bill Smith, CTO from Bell South and he started off very similar to the BCE presentation, until slide 6, when he introduced IMS and why Bell South is betting on IMS. Good luck!

Next on schedule was Niklas Zennstrom, who should come in via Skype and Video, but this did not work.

So Brad Garlinghouse, VP Yahoo! took the stage (a fine irony) with an excellent and interesting presentation contrasting the two previous ones.

Side remark: IMHO the VON showed clearly that there is a role for the old players - in the access. But the real music will be played by a bunch of newcomers: Google, Amazon, eBay/Skype and Yahoo! VoIP and Real-Time Communications are applications, and these companies are leading here already. They are delivering the better applications faster to the consumers. And the consumer base here is hugh and global. The incumbent telco providers are not able to deliver within this timeframe and their customer base is local (thanks to the national regulation). Since IMS applications will be developed by the telcos, you will eventually see applications showing up within three years Skype has already implemented yesterday.

There is only one big question mark: Microsoft. Basically nobody understands why MS is not able to really play a role here: they have the RTC, they had the MS messenger, they have direct access to enterprises via MS Exchange, they have the Active Directory, but they do not seem to be able to get these assets on track. Maybe voice communication is incompatible with MS, as it was with daddy IBM. I still remember the ROLM desaster.

Back to Yahoo! Brad of course showed the frontpage of the Economist, but he said that the Internet is NOT killing the phone business, on the contrary, the Internet is creating a massive opportunity for the phone business.

Remark: Exactly, but the phone companies are so blinded by the threats that they are not able to see the opportunities. The new communication companies do not have any threats, so they are able to see and pick up these opportunities.

Yahoo!, Google, Amazon, et. al. moved the Web 1.0 (simple Webpages) to Web 2.0. In the same way these companies will move Voice from 1.0 (POTSoIP) to Voice 2.0.

Brad use the term "Worlds of Communications are Colliding", others say convergence: networks, devices AND applications are colliding.

So the new voice playbook is:
  • Consumers are the ultimate judge
  • Stand-alone does not win
  • Building bridges is paramount
and: Personalize, Converge, Mobilize, User Control

the last one is often forgotten by telcos, but never by these companies.

Communications should simplify your life!

Zennstrom was still not on, so Blair Levin (Legg mason) took over, talking about VoIP and Public Policy. In the meantime the auditorium started to make jokes about Skype, topped by Blair when only some crackling came out on the loudspeakers: "The sound you hear is the sound of eBay stock going down"

He went through a whole lot of issues I basically agree, such as POTSoIP has no future, P2P communcations have voice only as subset, in future you will get paid for management and not for connectivity, the new companies already have tons of customers, they develop applications much faster then the ILECS, no time and distance billing, where is the line between "interconnected" and not-interconnected VoIP provider (sic!) and stand-alone has never a future.

Now they finally managed Niklas to get in, but only on audio. At this time many have already left for lunch. The whole thing was basically a desaster. Niklas confirmed what everybody knew already, that Skype is not a POTS replacement, that the major idea is to bring Skype and Paypal together to bring value-added calls to IP, and that Skype will support 911 activities. A new development will be personalizes Skype. BTW, more on future plans of Skype see here.

In the afternoon I had some side meetings and also made a round at the exhibition. Because of the confusing show guide I missed the Global IP Alliance meeting.

But of course I was in time for the Blogger Panel. It was a pleasure to meet some well-known bloggers first time face-to-face and to exchange some opinions. The discussion was also very interesting, also cause by the US, Canadian, European and Asian mix. Of course everybody missed James Enck, who is AWOL in London, in his own words. Alec Saunders blogged the bloggers session very extensively, so I just point.

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