I'm an articles guy not a news blogger, so I didn't even try to compete with the numerous people blogging last week's VON conference. In any event, I was double booked much of the time. The best part of VON is the people I meet and the one-on-one discussions but let me mention a few impressions of note:
- Social networking was everywhere, and not just because of Jeff's interest and/or the focus on Facebook in his kickoff speech. Every combination and permutation is being tried, especially through Facebook applications. I can't point to one application that's going to revolutionize IP communications in the sense Skype did, but I'm still hopeful. At least these apps are a step forward from the digital POTS VoIP services like Vonage, AT&T CallVantage and the various cable VoIP offers.
- The convergence of Mobile and VoIP continues to be via work-around. We're still a few years from true over-the-top IP communications on mobile, as today there's not enough upstream bandwidth, latencies for IP data are really something and, of course, there are mobile operator restrictions on VoIP over their networks. Of course mobile voice telephony is still so expensive, especially internationally, that workarounds will abound. But true mobile IP communications will be delayed a bit more...
One interesting tidbit: I finally got to hear from ooma and get the answers to two questions that had plagued me about their distributed termination approach. Distributed termination means calls, carried long distances by VoIP, can terminate in a remote city using another subscriber's local line. My issues:
- How do you handle the caller ID which will point to the local subscriber's line, not the original caller's line? Answer: they suppress CallerID, i.e. there is no caller ID. That's not great, as I know my wife won't answer such a call.
- What about people listening in on calls that are terminated through their local service? Answer: the ooma equipment senses extensions going off hook and avoids routing calls through subscribers whose lines have a history of people listening in. Well, that's certainly a partial answer. It's easy to detect extensions going off hook as an extension telephone puts an additional load on the line. But there are plenty of high impedance listening devices that don't load the line and can't be detected in any easy fashion. Again, it's an answer, but not a great one...
The conference itself felt a little smaller than last year in Boston or last spring in San Jose, but booth traffic appeared to be good. Also, there were more sessions and more tracks and more experimentation, as PulverMedia is obviously trying to reinvent itself and the show. I have some specific suggestions which I will offer to Carl Ford, but it may be another week or two before I get a free moment to write them out.
Here's a photo of the show floor on Tuesday at lunch time.