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Fall VON 2005 Report

Introduction

Fall VON 2005 convened this week in the spacious, new Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Although the move from its previous location at the Hynes was prompted by an increase to over 300 exhibitors, the show will need to about double in size before it outgrows at least the exhibition space in the new location.

There didn't seem to be any "big news" coming out of the show, unless you count AOL's announcement that it is ditching its closed-network approach to VoIP and unbarring the gates to the great AOL-less unwashed come October 4. Otherwise things in VoIP-land continue to evolve, with no technology discontinuities in sight.

I usually avoid keynotes, but sat in on a few this time. Tom Evslin's (CEO of ITXC) talk offered some reflections on post-Katrina events and what the VoIP community could do better the next time. But he also detailed some of the ways that VoIP was instrumental in getting the relief efforts finally rolling. Vonage CEO Jeff Citron's presentation was less inspiring and focused mainly on a pitch for companies to get behind his Broadband Bill of Rights - an idea put forward at the Progress & Freedom Foundation's Aspen Summit in August.

VON-meister Jeff Pulver also touched on the BBBoR in his Tuesday keynote, along with more Katrina war stories, the announcement that Free World Dialup is now Fwd:networks (since potential partners get antsy about the word "free") and a plug for the new FWD White Service that allows VoIP service providers to get VoIP numbers listed in local white pages.

A keynote I took off my "to see" list was Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström's, once I saw the "By Videoconference" notation in the conference program. Not that I'm clairvoyant or anything, but I somehow sensed that the experience would be less than great, which is how things turned out.