More than 6,000 will attend upcoming week's decidedly more international VON Show in San Jose, CA, says VoIP Guru and event organizer Jeff Pulver. Among the highlights: FCC Chief Michael Powell's farewell to his IP telephony fans, AOL's rumored entry into the consumer VoIP battles and regulators from around the world.
Spring VON 2005, schduled to begin Monday at the San Jose Convention Center, is on track to deliver what show producer Jeff Pulver says will be the biggest VON show ever. The event has signed up 6,000 attendees and 240 exhibitors.
The roster of star speakers includes outgoing Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell, Vonage CEO Jeffrey Citron and America Online CEO Jonathan Miller. The band Heart is slated to perform at Wednesday night's all conference bash, sponsored by Microsoft.
There's speculation that AOL's Miller might be making an announcement about the company's entry into VoIP in his address “Building the VoIP Market: Follow the Consumer” scheduled for Tuesday morning.
“A year ago in Santa Clara [VON 2004] I said that the VoIP industry needs a Steven Jobs,” explains Pulver. “Well Apple hasn't gotten into VoIP, but another company that knows about consumers is AOL. It's a company with a well-known brand and an established customer base.”
Powell will be presenting Tuesday what is likely be one of his last speeches as FCC Chairman. Powell, a Republican who's tenure at the FCC has been marked by several controversies — big media and telecommuinications consolidation, loosening of the Fairness Doctrine and accusations of government censorship — is considered to be very VoIP-friendly.
Pulver is a big fan of Powell's, whom he says “wowed audiences” in his Fall VON 2004 address in Boston and who has consistently supported keeping VoIP unregulated.
“VoIP has embraced Chairman Powell,” says Pulver. “He has delivered to the industry what they needed at the right time.”
In his address, Powell will be speaking about regulation over the exploding VoIP industry and may discuss a recent FCC judgment against a North Carolina telephone company and internet provider for blocking VoIP calls.
Those speculating about the direction of public policy after Powell's departure will be interested in hearing Michael Gallagher, who is considered a potential candidate for the top FCC post.
Gallagher is an Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Commerce and deputy director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). He will be speaking on the Bush administration's perspective on IP communications.
Another VON speaker who is possible candidate for a spot at the FCC is Earl Comstock, former aide to Sen. Ted Stevens (R.-Alaska). Comstock is a partner at Sher & Blackwell LLP, a Washington, D.C. based law firm and heads the firm's telecommunications practice.
Another aspect of the show Pulver is proud about is it's international flavor.
“We have delegates from regulatory agencies from the Seychelles to Ukraine,” Pulver says. “IP is truly an international language. Not everyone will be speaking English but they all will be speaking IP.”
Important as it is to Pulver, VON isn't the only event on his dance card in San Jose this week. He played on Saturday in the Ninth Annual World Poker Tour Shooting Star tournament at San Jose's Bay 101 card club.
Pulver reports that he “lost gracefully” in his first professional poker tournament.