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VoIP, WiMAX to Dominate ISPCON

Wired and wireless ISPs are preparing for a healthy debate over the future of VoIP, WiMAX and other provider issues as ISPCON rolls into Silicon Valley this week.

The show co-produced by The Golden Group and Jupitermedia is expected to pull in hundreds of attendees for the fourth year in a row all looking to connect. (Jupitermedia is the parent company of internetnews.com.)

Among the big players at the show this time around are dial-up wholesalers, each of which serves hundreds of ISP customers. Show organizers say exhibitors are eager to meet them as well as the people from Tucows (Web host) and Rich Baders a former keynote speaker who runs a relatively large group of independent ISPs and CLECs .

The conference theme this fall is "Grow Up!" which is demonstrated by the size and depth of ISPCON's conference programming content focused on new opportunities and methods for ISPs and WISPs to augment and finance their businesses.

Voice over IP guru Jeff Pulver and Nigel Ballard, who will keynote about WiMAX are expected to draw the largest crowds. Also look for news from Elliot Noss, who runs Tucows, Donny Smith, who runs a CLEC in Minnesota, pundit Om Malik, and Russ Intravartolo, a gear-head who runs StarNet.

The ISPs and WISPs will discuss unlicensed wireless Internet services with a varying combination of 802.11 and proprietary RF equipment. One topic the conference will address is WiMAX in order to clarify the realities for the ISPs and WISPs in attendance.

WiMAX is widely viewed as "the great wireless hope" for outdoor wireless services. The volume of news coverage, newsgroup discussion and exposure generated by the promise and potential impact of WiMAX is growing daily, say show organizers.

Beyond wireless, VoIP telephony is also a hot button topic for attendees.

Several keynotes and breakout sessions will examine the pros and cons of building an in-house product and review the technical abilities necessary to succeed. A separate panel is scheduled to discuss the pitfalls of VoIP implementation, and examine some of the more common problems suffered by startup VoIP companies.

For example, John Todd, CTO of VoIP Inc., will discuss the company's Asterisk platform. The open-source software performs a variety of telephony-related tasks, both as an application server and a VoIP gateway device for providers intent on building a VoIP solution in house. Todd said his solution is a viable option to those being offered by VoIP leaders Vonage and Skype.

"Building such a platform in-house is not necessarily for every organization," Todd said in a statement. "Many providers will want to outsource it, since such considerations as billing and provisioning are serious aspects to be addressed. In those cases, a VSP provider such as VoIP Solutions might be more appropriate."

Not present at this ISPCON is the hard discussions about government regulation in the industry. Although the California ISP Association will have a booth at the event, regulation is more the focus of the east coast show in the spring, ISPCON organizers said.