Prowling VON

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2004-03-31 Print this article Print

Jim Louderback wanders the halls of the Voice Over Network show and uncovers some cool new VOIP and broadband technologies.

This show rocks! I knew it was going to be a good show when I arrived at the Santa Clara convention center and the parking lot was full! I ended up in a lot across Great America Parkway—in one of the many abandoned dot-com office parks. But if the VOIP market has anything to do with it, the valley will be humming again. This is one hot show. Weve got lots of at, but what follows are the pieces I found particularly interesting, amusing or just plain fun. The big news: AT&T rolled out its big, big answer to Vonage, called CallVantage. At $40 a month for unlimited U.S. calling, its available now in Jersey and Texas (home respectively to big hair and big hats). Shortly after AT&T launched its service Monday, Vonage slapped them with a lawsuit, claiming the name (Vantage) was too close to its name (Vonage).
Theyve got a point. And the AT&T people were walking on pins and needles at the show. I wandered up to the booth to ask for a demo, and was told by the booth staff that they were unable to talk to me because I was press. Instead they directed me upstairs to a non-existent AT&T hospitality booth for the official spin. I nearly ripped the press tag off my badge, but luckily ran into the Death Star flack, who tugged me back to the booth and gave me a clean bill of health.
The demo was pretty impressive. Using a D-Link VOIP adapter—which you get for free with a one-year contract—the software looks clean and inviting. Im eagerly looking forward to our comparative review between CallVantage and Vonage. For more details, check out "AT&T Rolls Out Do-It-Yourself VOIP." I also ran into my old friend Jeff Bonforte, former CEO of failed dot-com startup iDrive. Hes currently CEO of SipPhone, Michael Robertsons VOIP play. Jeff filled me full of cool facts about what SipPhone will launch over the next few weeks, and then swore me to secrecy. I cant give you details, but suffice to say that a comparison between Vonage, Vantage and SipPhone might be a pretty hot horse race. Jeffs best story: Robertson, who took on the music industry with, and Microsoft with Lindows, is getting a similar reaction from telcos. "Well bury you," they claim, when Robertson extends the olive branch. Hmmm. This is the guy who had a hand in killing the music industry as we know it, and is taking Microsoft for a ride worldwide. I wouldnt bet against him! More on SipPhone in the weeks to come. Next page: Bridging Wi-Fi and VOIP.

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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