The names below are not presented/ranked in any particular order, so if you are at the top or bottom of the list, don’t jump to any conclusions. Next year might hold the potential for a “power rating” or point scale, but I’d also like a couple of paid assistants and a half dozen sponsors…
Jeff Rodman, CTO Voice Division, Polycom – The Ace of Phones
If HD Voice is at the top of the agenda, Polycom CTO and co-founder Jeff Rodman will likely be one of the participants. While he doesn’t have a gray beard, Rodman’s extensive experience in the IP phone industry qualifies him as one. Since Polycom has been pushing HD voice before HD voice became cool, Rodman is the point man on the company’s efforts to raise the bar on voice and get us all to a wideband world. If he’s speaking, go listen — next stops are the HD Voice Summit at 2010 CES next week and IT EXPO East 2010.
Tony Stankus, Product Manager, Gigaset – Phone Claus
If you have received a Gigaset phone over the past year as a gift/door prize, it is more than likely because Tony provided it. The exact number of Gigaset handsets Tony has distributed across the land gratis over the past year is unknown, but the number is a multiple of hundreds – maybe more if he was down at the mall in a red suit earlier this month.
Also like Santa, Stankus has his own fan club and had the largest number of write-in votes to make it onto the HD “Player” list.
David Frankel, CEO, ZipDX – Boosting HD Voice Conference calling
Lots of companies have been giving lip service to HD voice enhancing conference calls, but Frankel is the guy who gets on event agendas talking up G.722 and wideband technology. As the Brits say, he’s “punching above his weight” relative to the Other Guys and people are paying attention. Plus he gets good karma points for supporting the weekly VoIp Users Conference” conference call.
Jeff Pulver and Daniel Berninger – Stirring the pot
While AudioCodes may have started the HD voice snowball rolling in earnest, Jeff Pulver and Daniel Berninger have been the guys to roll it up large enough to build a snow man called “HD Connect” and execute two events in New York City (the HD Communications Summits), along with some ad hoc meetings in Washington D.C. Pulver also provided some initial funding for what is now HD Voice News.
A European event in Paris on February 2010 sponsored by Orange and one in Silicon Valley in March may be in the works in the future, but details are a little scarce at the moment.
Jonathan Christensen, Senior Director, Skype – SILK and off the (G.722 ) beaten path
In an exchange of emails with the editor, Michael Stanford (http://www.wirevoluton.com) makes a compelling case for Christensen’s inclusion as an “HD Voice Player” —
“SILK is the most widely deployed wideband (==HD Voice) voice codec in the world, and the most widely used. It was Jonathan’s dream to have a freely available state-of-the-art wideband codec when he founded Camino Networks to write one. Skype bought Camino, which is how he ended up there. In other words, Jonathan is responsible for more minutes of wideband voice per day than anybody else on earth, with the possible exception of the people at GIPS.”
Love it or hate it, SILK will be a discussion topic in the HD Voice arena moving forward and since Christensen has his fingers all over it, he is List Worthy.
William R. Bumbernick, President/CEO, Alteva – Alliances ‘R Us
Over the past months, Bumbernick has been front and center talking up the prospects for an independent IP Peering Alliance made up of business VoIP hosting providers and (potentially) Tier 2/Tier 3 service providers. In late October, Alteva and SimpleSignal announced they had a connection/relationship for full interoperability at the VoIP and SIP level, enabling them to seamlessly exchange direct video calls and G.722 HD voice calls. Other providers are reportedly considering joining up to avoid per-minute PSTN billing and termination charges while working groups figure out technical and business issues.
Mike Rude, Vice President Business Development, DSP Group – A man with two hats
When Mike isn’t busy as the VP of Business Development at DSP Group, he’s switching hats and running the USA DECT Forum Working Group. Since the DECT Forum has formalized the CAT-iq wireless standard for supporting HD voice on an in-home wireless handset, Rude’s work in advocating and promoting CAT-iq cannot be understated. CAT-iq has been adopted as a standard for France Telecom – the current largest purchaser of HD voice phones – and at CableLabs, the guys who set standards for cable operators around the world.
Jan Linden, Vice President, Engineering, Global IP Solutions – HD is not just a codec
As discussions around HD Voice have heated up, Linden – a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering – has been on the front lines to educate and promote the virtues of wideband voice for all. While Rodman has been promoting the virtues of HD voice usage, Linden is quick to remind audiences that implementing wideband communications is more than simply a software upgrade and requires sufficient hardware and network resources to make HD, well, sound like HD rather than a warmed over PSTN call.
Alla Reznik, Director, Product Marketing Global Advanced Voice Services, Verizon – HD Happy
Reznik has boldly said what no other North American Tier 1 players have dared – Verizon Business expects HD voice “early adopters” among its core enterprise/government customers in 2010 and “General availability” in 2011. She’s also been telling Verizon’s HD voice story with the company’s installation of nearly 5,000 Polycom HD voice phones at the corporate HQ in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. (Of course, Global Crossing already has a large enterprise customer with HD voice, but we’ll get to that later…)