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Rich Tehrani

[February 12, 2004]

It�s A Good Time To Be In VoIP: INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO 2004 Day 1 Recap

BY RICH TEHRANI


A single theme has permeated the most recent INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO so far this year. That theme is growth. I have seen growth in various sectors of the market since we launched this show six years ago, but this time it is different. In the past, growth in one segment didn�t translate into growth in other parts of the VoIP space.

For example, the growth of the CLEC market in 99-2000 meant a flood of service providers to this show in those years. At the time the common �wisdom� was that service providers would be providing all telecom services and the enterprise had less reason to purchase VoIP solutions themselves. We saw tremendous growth in the service provider sector and slower growth in the enterprise attendance.

This time it is different� Situated in Miami, this event is drawing people from around the globe. Every session on the first day was standing room only and many of the sessions were closed off due to overcrowding. We frankly never expected this type of traffic and we further weren�t expecting it to span across all segments. The first SIP session of the show had nearly 100 attendees; our service provider roundtable was standing room only. Over 400 people signed up for conferences in total over three days.

The major U.S.-based service providers have their purchasing teams here while the cable companies and hundreds of international service providers, some established and some like E-Teknoloji, are establishing themselves as VoIP service providers in Turkey where the market just recently opened up. The South American service provider market is no different. Torrid growth permeates the entire continent as well as the Caribbean. Representatives of virtually every country are in attendance. We should rename this event the UN of VoIP.

The enterprise market is no slouch and the developers are here in force as well. Literally, every sector we target is here in record numbers and the hotel is overflowing. Thanks to many of you, Internet Telephony is now firmly entrenched as the largest VoIP show in the world, attracting qualified attendees with real buying power.

Penny Shaffer, VP of AT&T Global Services, delivered a truly engaging presentation yesterday talking about the future of IP telephony and the next generation of devices and services we can expect. This marks the first time that AT&T has participated in this event in a major way� This certainly bodes will for the market.

Perhaps the bravest major speaker of all was Mun-Yuen Leong, the CTO of Avaya, who showed WiFi telephony (on a Pocket PC PDA no less) in action and how remote workers can truly take advantage of IP telephony in a way that allows them to not miss important calls. The audience and I were impressed. I mention "brave" because live demos are often fraught with last minute problems and things always work well until the audience gets there. Sure enough, the GSM and WiFi networks are working great. Aruba Wireless gets the credit for the WiFi delivery by the way. Interestingly, contact centers were mentioned throughout the major presentations. Mr. Leong, for example, mentioned that reservation agents in airports are often idle and would make ideal agents who can have IP telephony calls piped to them when they are available.

Our TMC University, IP PBX Certification session was maxed out as well. Over 70 people were in this room when I peeked my head in a few times. I have received pretty great comments about this session.

The exhibit hall opens in a few hours and registration numbers have already exceeded 3,000. By the way, so far, 90 percent of our attendees tell us this is their first time attending this show! Miami traditionally has the most walk-up traffic of any city we have done a show in and we are preparing for the onslaught of new buyers into our industry. Thanks to all of you for making this the most well attended show in the space.

For many of you in the VoIP market in the last few years, it has indeed been a grueling time. I can say that this show is the first sign that things have turned around. We are running on all cylinders now. The momentum, energy and excitement of this conference is bound to turn into many sold products and services in the next few days. IP telephony is today�s telephony� Anything else in now legacy. It is a good time to be in VoIP. 

Please talk back to me in our forums.

Rich Tehrani is TMC's president. He welcomes your comments. Participate in our forums.

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