Some VON Headlines

VoIPplanet.com attended Fall 2006 VON in Boston this week. We talked to many interesting vendors; here are a few highlights.

By Ted Stevenson | Posted Sep 15, 2006
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Digium with new Asterisk release, appliance
We visited with Digium, the company founded by Open Source PBX Asterisk's creator, Mark Spencer. Kevin Fleming, senior software engineer, advised VoIPplanet.com that the latest version of Asterisk—version 1.4—will be out any minute. The long-awaited upgrade will feature integration of voicemail and email, fax support, a complete, simplified scripting language for creating Asterisk configurations, a generic jitter buffer for improved voice quality, and more.

Also unveiled was the first "appliance" version of Asterisk, a svelte, 11-by-6-by-3/4 inch case containing all necessary hardware and ports, full Asterisk software on flash, plus full documentation, specifications, and support. Digium's plan is to offer the package as a Kit for third-party developers that will provide them with a foundation on which to build customized telephony systems for a variety of small (1-50 person) businesses.

Both Asterisk 1.4 and the Asterisk Appliance Developer Kit should be available in October 2006.

AT&T launches CallVantage Softphone Service
Seeking to expand its successful CallVantage service offering, AT&T announced—and demonstrated—a new softphone offering at VON. CallVantage Softphone essentially cuts AT&T's residential CallVantage VoIP service free from its wireline moorings, letting customers take their phone with them wherever they go, and using it wherever they can access a broadband connection.

CallVantage Softphone mimics the company's wired VoIP CallVantage service, providing the same high-end telephony features—including CallWaiting, Caller ID, Voicemail, Call Logs, and Locate Me services—and brings two-way video telephony to the party at no extra charge.

The Softphone service is available in a 300 Minute, and an Unlimited plan, priced at $10.99 and $19.99 respectively, with a substantial discount for existing CallVantage wired subscribers.

Truphone brings VoIP to mass-market cellphones
For those who have been impatiently waiting for the gulf between cellular mobile and VoIP telephony to be bridged, the wait is over—at least, for a small subgroup. Those with dual-mode Nokia E-series handsets, which support both Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11 wireless networking) and GSM, will now be able to make free VoIP calls over the network of UK newcomer Truphone.

Truphone picked the Fall VON 2006 venue to announce the availability of its free (beta) VoIP software download, currently available only for dual-mode E-series, Symbian-based, Nokia phones. When a handset bearing the software is within communications distance of a Wi-Fi network, calls will be routed over that network. Otherwise, calls go over the mobile operators's GSM network, as usual.

As with Skype, Gizmo Project, and other softphone-based VoIP services, "in-network" calls are free. VoIP calls to the PSTN carry are charged "at a characteristically low rate," according to Truphone Product Director, Roland Hanbury.

Truphone plans to add support for the Nokia N-series soon, with Windows Mobile to follow. In terms of functionality, Truphone promises SMS messaging and, a bit later, presence capability.

To download the software, users should go to the Truphone website and send a coded SMS message to the appropriate phone number (designated at the website). The download takes place over the air, and configuration is automatic.

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