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Future Trends in Communication Examined at the 2007 O'Reilly Emerging Telephony Conference

March 14, 2007

Sebastopol, CA -- The second edition of the O'Reilly Emerging Telephony Conference (ETel) wrapped up on March 1, following three days of mind-expanding presentations and workshops delving into the future of realtime and mobile communications. More than 500 business leaders, entrepreneurs, hackers, open source activists, grassroots developers, and visionary researchers attended ETel, all actively participating in an open environment where learning was a shared experience.

"The conference team and I have been overwhelmed with positive feedback from ETel attendees, speakers, and sponsors. The program has received rave reviews as being an extraordinarily valuable investment of time for the busy principals and innovators of the telephony community," stated Surj Patel, ETel Conference co-chair. "In fact, it turned into a mini who's who of the next-gen telephony world with industry figures like Ed Guy, Om Malik, Trevor Baca, Jeff Bonforte, and Mark Spencer rubbing shoulders with Phil Zimmerman, Lee Felsenstein, Brad Templeton, and more. We're all grateful that our efforts were so well-received."

ETel was held on February 27 through March 1 at the San Francisco Marriott in Burlingame, California. The first day of the conference was devoted to hands-on workshops led by the geek gurus of the telephony community, and the following two days consisted of short, intense, plenary presentations on cutting-edge projects and business ideas from many of the thought leaders in the industry. Speakers and sessions at this year's ETel included:

  • Jeff Bonforte, Yahoo! Inc.: Where Will Voice 3.0 Take Us?
  • Tero Ojanpera, Nokia: Putting the Internet in Your Pocket
  • Mark Spencer, Digium, Inc.: The Future of Asterisk
  • Juergen Fey, Ericsson GmbH: Mobile Devices: Past, Present, and Future
  • Stowe Boyd, Blue Whale Labs: Communication Underload: A Contrarian Approach
  • Norman Lewis: You Ain't Seen Anything Yet Mate: Digital Children and the Future of Disruptive Innovation
  • Sunil Vemuri: Searching Calls: Indexing, Searching, and Retrieving Recorded Speech
  • Brian Aker, MySQL: VoIP Hacking at Home
  • Mike Liebhold, Institute for the Future: Myths and promises of an Open Mobile Web
  • Alex Russell, SitePen: Ajax and Mobility

To view a cross-section of ETel speaker presentations, visit:

A number of events took place during the conference including ETel Launch Pad, where seven companies demonstrated their groundbreaking start-ups and innovative technologies to the telephony community. Participating companies were GrandCentral Communications, Peerant, Flat Planet Phone Co., Cellcrypt, mySay, Jive Software, and Mig33. ETel Launch Pad was co-sponsored by GigaOm, Covad, and GrandCentral and hosted by Om Malik and Surj Patel.

Another event of interest was the telephony mashup contest, co-sponsored by StrikeIron, Tellme, Sylantro, and O'Reilly. Three finalists were chosen to present their creations at the conference on Wednesday: FishLign, RoboCal, and After Hours Doctors Office. After the demos, the audience voted by text message for a winning entry. The $1,500 prize was claimed by After Hours Doctors Office, a telephony mashup that combined voice with the Amazon Mechanical Turk, in order to get patients in contact with a doctor in short order.

In conjunction with ETel was FreeTel, a one-day mini-conference organized by Simon Ditner and Evan Henshaw Plath that aimed to bridge emerging telephony applications and social change. A series of talks and workshops targeting activists, advocates, fundraisers, and organizers were given by technical innovators who have been successful at using telephone networks as a powerful tool for social change.

Finally, there was the ETel Fair, a science fair-style event where under-the-radar inventors showcased their ingenious projects. This year the fair was host to a number of students from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program. Their original projects included Botanicalls, an app allowing plants to communicate their owners; Bangla Bollo, an app designed to simulate a conversation in another language; and SupriseDialer, a program which enables several people to record a message (such as a birthday greeting) and schedule it to be delivered at a later time.

In addition to Launch Pad, announcements made at ETel included:

  • Voxeo announced their latest upgrades to Prophecy and launched their free, web-based voice application development studio
  • Jaduka launched a phone API that allows developers to create web services that interact with the standard public switched telephone network
  • Jive Software presented their Openfire solution (previously called Wildfire), a cross-platform application that brings chat and VoIP to the enterprise
  • Nokia announced the availability of their open API for enhanced reality applications
  • OpenMoko presented their open source, iPhone-like GSM handset to press and public
  • British Telecom announced their support for developers with the launch of an open network API for application builders

ETel 2007 was sponsored by Orange, Jaduka, LignUp, Make, and Voxeo.

Additional Resources:

For complete ETel conference details, visit:

Read the ETel conference blog for the news, blogs, photos (available for use with attribution), and announcements:

Visit the O'Reilly Network Emerging Telephony site for industry news and information:

Upcoming O'Reilly conferences:

  • O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, March 26-29, 2007 in San Diego
  • Web 2.0 Expo, co-produced by O'Reilly Media and CMP Technology, April 15-18, 2007 in San Francisco, CA
  • MySQL Conference & Expo, April 23-26, 2007 in Santa Clara, California
  • RailsConf, May 17-20, 2007 in Portland, Oregon
  • O?Reilly Where 2.0 Conference, May 29-30, 2007 in San Jose, CA
  • O?Reilly TOC Conference, June 18-20, 2007 in San Jose, CA
  • Ubuntu Live, co-produced by Canonical, July 22-24 in Portland, OR
  • O'Reilly Open Source Convention, July 23-27, 2007 in Portland, OR
  • O'Reilly Energy Innovation Conference, August 22-24, 2007 in San Francisco, CA
  • RailsConf Europe, co-presented by O'Reilly Media and Ruby Central, September 17-19, 2007 in Berlin, Germany

O'Reilly conferences bring together forward-thinking business and technology leaders, shaping ideas and influencing industries around the globe. For over 25 years, O'Reilly has facilitated the adoption of new and important technologies by the enterprise, putting emerging technologies on the map.

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