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February 13, 2006

The Future of Internet Telephony Explored at the 2006 O'Reilly Emerging Telephony Conference

Sebastopol, CA--ETel, the O'Reilly Emerging Telephony Conference, made its debut last week, bringing to light the real telecom stories--the applications built on top of IP telephony. Pioneers who have made VoIP deployments, built voice applications, and migrated to IP telephony platforms came to ETel to share how they integrated new technologies, what worked, and what didn't in their quest for better service, more features, and lower prices. ETel happened January 24-26, 2006 at the San Francisco Airport Marriott.

O'Reilly conferences are known for bringing together seemingly disparate communities to debate their differences and find common ground to move technology forward. ETel was no exception. Just over 500 participants made up the vibrant, international mix, representing a cross section of the internet telephony ecosystem. Developers, telco execs, start-up hopefuls, big-thinkers from academia and research labs, venture capitalists, and community activists made important and perhaps unexpected connections face-to-face during the course of the conference.

ETel devoted a full day to in-depth workshops, guiding attendees through a comprehensive understanding of the technologies underlying telephony. Following the workshops were two days of rapid-fire presentations--most were just fifteen minutes long, none lasted more than thirty--covering the depth and breath of the state of internet telephony and the many perspectives and predictions for the industry's future. Speakers included:

  • Peter Cochrane, former British Telecom Research futurologist and an executive at ConceptLabs
  • Norman Lewis, head of Wanadoo research, Europe's largest ISP
  • Amritansh Raghav of Microsoft Voice Applications demonstrated hot new lab innovations and prototypes
  • Mark Spencer, president of Digium and the "father of Asterisk"
  • Gary Clayton, chief creative officer of Tellme and a Grammy-nominated record producer, led a master class on how to produce effective phone applications for specific audiences that enrich the customers experience on the phone
  • Tom Hale, senior SVP, Telecoms, outlined Macromedia's plan to empower developers to create new communications apps
  • Srikanth Raju, senior evangelist of Forum Nokia Americas illustrated how new technologies for handset development, together with things like SIP support on handsets will create new opportunities for wireless products
  • David Beckenmeyer of Televolution and co-founder of Earthlink talked about his new startup and platform for voice services and apps
  • Roberto Tagliabue, coved design as a strategic tool
  • Erik van Eykelen, Voipster, discussed open source VoIP
  • Ejovi Nuwere launched FON
  • Sean Egan from Google presented Google Gaim and Voice
  • Jean-Marc Frangos of British Telecom described the 21st Century Network
  • Philip Zimmermann, PGP creator, discussed security on VoIP
  • Martin Geddes, Telepocalypse
  • Michael Robertson, CEO of Linspire/Gizmo discussed his goal to promote open directories for IM providers and open standards to make an interoperable world
  • Brian Capouch, St. Joseph's College, received a standing ovation for his work linking rural Indiana communities
  • Scott Lawrence, Pingtel, posited SipX as the Asterisk challenger
  • Kevin Lenzo of Cepstral and a voice recognition pioneer
  • ETel featured several events to continue discussions, networking, and introductions. The conference started with the Hacker Cafe, sponsored by Tellme, a relaxed drop-in space for conference-goers to mingle with alpha geeks and see demonstrations of their work. An evening sponsor reception gave attendees a chance to find out about cutting edge products from sponsors Tellme, MySQL, Voxeo, sms.ac, and Voipster.

    ETel also featured the ETel Fair, an informal evening event designed to introduce garage inventors and their below-the-radar creations to a larger audience. Participants included Wes Carr of Gtalkr; Todd Pinkerton from Ringfo; Spencer Kiser, Dee Harvey, and Jenny Chowdhury from New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program; Benjamin Keighran of Bluepulse; Greg Sadetsky, Denis Laprise, Samuel Cossette, and Jean-Philippe Lebel of PolyVox; Simon Ditner from Zork; Cooper Marcus, Marc Cull, Brandon Bidlack, and Justin Eckhouse from Spark Parking; Bret McDanel of Trixster; Matthew Fogle from Shadowmite; Brad Jensen of Solar Wifi; and Adrien Cahen of OpenWengo.

    Announcements made at ETel include:

  • Voxeo launched Prophecy, the first free IVR/VXML platform
  • Poly9 introduced Jabphone.com and Polyvox, a Voice 2.0 web platform that allows users, small businesses, and corporate giants to create scalable voice apps and services
  • VoIPSter, the Amsterdam-based VoIP technology company, made two announcements: the development of a new Zoep plugin that adds full telephony functionality to the Firefox browser; and the launch of OpenZoep, the first open standards-based VoIP engine
  • Brian McConnell demonstrated a new conferencing and telecasting platform called RadioHandi, built from the ground up around open standards telephony
  • The first O'Reilly Emerging Telephony Conference brought together the viewpoints of both the business and developer communities--the people directing the future of the industry--to clearly and concisely define what's really going on at the tipping point where telephony merges with the Internet. The 2007 edition will continue to track where these applications are going, how we can manage them for the good of consumers and the enterprise, and the tangible benefits we can derive from IP telephony applications.

    O'Reilly conferences include: ETech, the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference; the MySQL Users Conference, co-presented with MySQL AB; Where 2.0 Conference; OSCON; the O'Reilly European Open Source Convention; and Web 2.0 (co-hosted by Tim O'Reilly and John Battelle, and co-produced with CMP Media). O'Reilly conferences bring together forward-thinking business and technology leaders, shaping ideas and influencing industries around the globe. For over 25 years, O'Reilly has facilitated the adoption of new and important technologies by the enterprise, putting emerging technologies on the map.

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    About O'Reilly

    O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

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