Friday, April 10, 2009

MetaSwitch Forum 2009 - Day 3

The MetaSwitch Forum 2009 wrapped up today with a nice mix of panels and keynotes. My day started prompt at 8:30, as I moderated a session on consumer VoIP. I could do a whole day on this topic, so with only 40 minutes we barely got going. That's fine - it was still good. Joining me was Kevin Edwards of Embarq and Richard Wardell of Wyoming-based TCT. It was a nice contrast between large and small operators, and I'm not going to tell you which of the two is doing more interesting things with fiber and converged services. The audience turnout was strong and we had some good Q&A at the end.

I caught a bit of Doug Mohney's IPTV panel following mine, and again, you'd be surprised how far along the curve some of these IOCs are. From what I can gather, a lot of these rural households are getting way faster broadband speeds than I can get back in Toronto. Go figure. Well, frankly, give MetaSwitch a lot of the credit. They've done a great job providing their customers with the right technologies as well as some vision about what is possible. I guess that helps explain why so many customers came out to the forum - they're there to learn, not just from MetaSwitch, but what many of their peers are doing.

The rest of the day took place in the main hall with a keynote and a couple of panels. First was a keynote by Dennis Huber, CTO of Embarq - he talked about their approach to innovation, and as big telcos go, they seem to have the right focus here. It sure will be interesting to watch how things unfold with them and Century Tel.

After that, there were two panels. First, Carol Wilson moderated a State of the Industry session. There was some good discussion there about a favorite topic of mine - the service provider of the future. Although this was a pretty conservative audience, I would have liked to have seen them push the envelope a bit further. They touched on many important issues, but didn't really address emerging business models, which I think needed to be there. I was glad to see Gary Kim bring up machine-to-machine or person-to-machine communications, which is another area that I think will be huge.

Following that was a closing Q&A with the MetaSwitch exec team, which I thought was a fitting way to wrap up. It was great to see all of them up there together, sharing their views on what's coming, and having some open dialog with the audience. One of the things I really like about MetaSwitch is the collective nature of their culture. There isn't any one guy - like Steve Jobs - who drives everything. All of the exec team brings something to the table, and it was nice to get this full range of views on where the company - and the market - is going.

All told, it was a very worthwhile event, and they pulled it off pretty much exactly to plan. Kudos to Carol Daniels, Andy Randall and the full Marketing team - they sure make it look easy. After the wrap up session, there were some recreational activities for the afternoon, and I did the Hoover Dam tour. Highly recommended - that was a great experience, and I've included a couple of pictures below.

Dennis Huber, Embarq

State of the Industry panel

Exec Q&A session

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