Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Tuesday, March 30, 2004

  Brain dumping from VON

Shortly after I left the press room I got a legit press pass from Angelo and Gina of Pulverinnovations.com, which took some of the fun out of skulking around, but also gained me some respect (and fear) from various reps on the floor when they see me whip out the tape deck and start raving about unwiring the last mile to the beach....

I like hearing things like this:

Press: "Internet telephony has long been custom, is it now general?"
AT&T Rep: "Yes."

I had never in my life heard an AT&T rep give a one syllable answer to a question before.

I have gathered so much material that I could spend a month writing about it. I've got a month's worth of backlog from the contact conference two weeks ago, too. I'm out of business cards. I need to find a quiet dark corner and vibrate for a while.

Impressions: Everyone is enthusiastic as hell. Most booths are packed, with the line entering the broadvoice booth extending to the wall - they are selling a WiFi (WiSip) phone and service for 19.95/month unlimited calling to the POTS network. The phone is going for 99 dollars. The same phone, direct from Pulver, is $249, without the service (you can hook it up to Free World dialup and pay no monthly fee...)

I am torn. I want one of these phones. I like the POTS gateway inherent in the broadvoice, hate the standard cell phone-like service contract that they offer - I think I (unlike J random consumer) will pay the full deal for the phone and stay on free world dialup.

Naturally, the Wifi phones don't work inside the conference center network - firewall issues. Damn it, I hate that cell phones don't work well here either. Hmm... maybe I can hook up the Idirect guys (who are mounting one of their satelite dishes on the roof as I write) - with one of the wireless server providers - with one of the wifi phone sellers and have the !@#! service actually work. What did they do, leave all the techies at home, again?

FWD, btw, has just added support for the IAX2 protocol (which routes through firewalls better than the SIP protocol, at least theoretically), which is cool - as Asterisk, an open source PBX project produced by Digium is trying to make iax2 a defacto standard before SIP takes over completely....

The rest of the show is dominated by backbone VOIP solutions - software for managing calls, interoperability, billing, call centers - and hardware (tons of voip phones, pbxes, routers, etc) and I need a lot of time to try and comprehensively cover that stuff - and there's food to eat and presentations to see. Later....



A half dozen other vendors have a consumer phone available RSN. Senao has a promising phone + 802.11e combination. (802.11e is like 802.11b only with some enhancements for realtime error correction), supposed to ship in 2 months. It's about 2/3s the size of the Pulver phone....

Von Magazine is at Vol 2, no 1.


 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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