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July 24, 2006

O'Reilly Emerging Telephony Conference: Opportunity Calls

Sebastopol, CA--The Call for Participation for the second annual O'Reilly Emerging Telephony Conference, aka ETel, is now open. Technologists, CTOs, chief scientists, researchers, programmers, hackers, business developers, entrepreneurs, and other interested parties are invited to lead conference plenary sessions and workshops at ETel 2007. Topics will be centered on innovations and projects in open source telephony, P2P VoIP, open source hardware, wireless mobility, mobile telephony, wi-fi VoIP, telco networks as platforms, and the intersection of VoIP telephony with web services. Proposals are due no later than September 26, 2006.

Telephony sits at the intersection of emerging technology, enormous corporate interests, government bureaucracy, eager consumers, and hackers who are poised to change everything we know about telephone communications networks. People in all fields of the telecom world are recognizing and embracing changes in the telephony industry, and with that a real sense of excitement and entrepreneurial opportunity. Now that IP telephony is being democratized, the industry is at a massive inflection point, worthy of serious investment. When the cost of a call is driving towards zero, the greatest challenge is to make phone calls more apt, meaningful, and useful.

Some of the specific topics on the radar for the next ETel are:

  • Open Source Software and Hardware/Open Telephony: Asterisk and Skype are just the beginning. Open source platforms have been created and are being implemented by hackers and businesses alike. Whatís the next evolution? Open source hardware is another fertile field.
  • Wireless Mobility and Mobile Telephony: The spectrum is opening up and you can SkypeOut from the local coffee shop. When every device is net connected, what's next?
  • Wi-fi Telephony, the Telephone Network as a Platform: Just as open source telephony allows you to hack your own PBX, what would you do with an entire open network?
  • Intersection of VoIP Telephony and Web Services: Phone calls plotted on a Google Maps mash-up? Web sites that allow you to track someone's cell phone? Instant price checks from Amazon? Add an event to your web calendar by just calling an artificial voice agent? The potential for innovation is huge.
  • Infrastructure: GSM, CDMA, POTS, wi-fi, wi-max, Mesh, PicoCells, unlicensed spectrum, and beyond.
  • Voice as Data: Sarbanes-Oxley is leading to the documentation of everything. On-demand search on voice is not far away. There will be innovation for people and new privacy concerns as well.
  • Ethnography, Culture, and People: How are activists, community groups, gamers, and altruists employing IP telephony to do the right thing--or just scratch an itch?
  • Usability and Experience: Provocative research and instructive workshops on design, voice user interface design, and product/service design as well as novel uses of audio in visualization are invited.
  • Business Models: What will the new business models look like? Will low cost and accessibility help innovate services that donít depend on billing systems, or will the telcos re-invent themselves? Will the community or legislation make us shy away from taking the risks needed for truly innovative ideas to have a chance?
  • Early Warning Signals: What's off the wall today and mainstream tomorrow? What are the insatiably curious hackers building in their garages that will change the world, surprise and delight us, or simply shake us out of our assumptions?
  • Evening fairs, a much-loved fixture at many O'Reilly conferences, are science fair style events showcasing under-the-radar projects and people who aren't quite ready to take the formal conference stage. The ETel Fair will return for the 2007 conference and promises to be a bizarre bazaar of ideas, technology, and people with something daring to show the world.

    "ETel was a ground breaking conference," says program co-chair Surj Patel. "We took a risk and broke from the tried, tired old format of most telco events--thinly disguised trade shows to sell boxes--and created a revitalized forum for early stage innovators, alpha geeks, and telco researchers to meet, debate, and share ideas with the people who may actually make them happen in the world. It was a heady atmosphere. Our aim now is to take that spirit of imagination, discovery, and action into ETel 2007 and beyond."

    ETel is the one place that clearly articulates the direction the industry is heading. ETel brings together business leaders, visionary researchers from industry and universities, entrepreneurs, new venture funders, open source activists, and grassroots developers. Over the course of three days, ETel provides a road map to identify the opportunities as new forms of communication emerge. Like other O'Reilly conferences, ETel is a mix of the inspired and the practical, providing one of the only opportunities for the established telco/telecom community to come together with the new generation of developers and alpha geeks who are creating the next wave of IP telephony applications and tools.

    Additional Resources:

    Other Upcoming O'Reilly Conferences:

    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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