Monday, September 19, 2005

VON Keynote: Pulver's Perspective

"VoIP is no longer just disrupting telecom, it is about transformation," said Jeff Pulver in a keynote address at the Fall VON in Boston. We are experiencing the coming together of 2 distinct groups -- the telecom industry and the computing industry -- and the pieces are coming together faster than ever before. Application developers are purchasing communications companies amid a new rush to add communication capabilities to everyday applications. eBay/Skype, Yahoo/Dialpad, Microsoft/Teleo, GoogleTalk -- all these have happened in the last 2 months.

What else is new? Pulver cited two events that are impacting the industry.

The first is Hurricane Katrina which shows how depend we still are on the PSTN work and cellular networks..both of which failed to work in the storm's aftermath. Pulver said a call was carried from the President to the Mayor of New Orleans over the Vonage network. Meanwhile, amateur radio operators were able to establish communication when other means failed. He chided the FCC for failing to consider the role of either of these technologies in its recent open meeting that addressed the disaster. Pulver also proposed an "Internet field day" along the lines of an annual event held by amateur radio operators to practice their emergency readiness. The idea would be to rollout ad hoc meshed WiMAX networks following a major disaster. These networks could be combined with long-haul amateur radio links to quickly restore a level of communications.

A second major change affecting the industry, said Pulver, is the introduction of disruptive video broadcasting technology. The LiveAid ~Live8 concerts broadcast over the Internet last summer demonstrated that Web video delivery really could rival traditional broadcast networks. Pulver is convinced that TV is becoming just another application on the Internet. He is also a fan of Slingmedia, which offers a box for tunneling TV content from a home receiver over an IP connection. This line of reasoning leads to a growing appreciated for the four Internet Freedoms outlined by the former FCC Chairman Michael Powell -- the rights for users to access their choice of legal content, using applications and devices of their choice, and knowing that their online security is being protected.


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