I am hon­ored and proud to accept the award on behalf of all the peo­ple who have made real-time com­mu­ni­ca­tion over the Internet pos­si­ble. Who have made it pos­si­ble that we can now seri­ous­ly think about replac­ing a lega­cy one hun­dred year-old tele­phone net­work by a more mod­ern ver­sion of that, name­ly an Internet-based ver­sion. Probably the last ves­tige of the old com­mu­ni­ca­tion infra­struc­ture that we still have to tack­le, and I’m glad many of us were able to do that together.

As part of the evo­lu­tion of this tech­nol­o­gy, I’ve been kind of pleased, or in some cas­es not so much, to be part of six phas­es of a tech­nol­o­gy. I know some of you know kind of the Gartner type of phas­es with hype and dis­il­lu­sion­ment and all that. I don’t think that quite worked in that case.

The first phase was why both­er? We have a per­fect­ly fine tele­phone net­work. Why do you both­er with doing this over IP? It can bare­ly sound good let alone do all the fea­tures you had. Fortunately, Vint, in this first phase was able to pro­vide encour­age­ment when he was still at MCI to say, Hm. Maybe worth pursuing.”

The sec­ond phase is nobody cared. That’s a real­ly good thing. Because you can actu­al­ly do engi­neer­ing work with­out hav­ing grand ambi­tions or hav­ing lots of peo­ple, say at oth­er stan­dards orga­ni­za­tions, sud­den­ly get inter­est­ed. They did­n’t know what was hit­ting them. 

Then there’s the usu­al hype phase and imple­men­ta­tion phase and all that. Then comes, unfor­tu­nate­ly, the patent lawyer phase. I could if I want­ed to, and I sus­pect some of my friends have, used that to their advan­tage even if they had nev­er filed a patent them­selves, as wit­ness­es on the oth­er side.

Then unfor­tu­nate­ly we get to a phase where your kids no longer think this is cool tech­nol­o­gy. Voice? Who would use that?” says my daughter.

And unfor­tu­nate­ly now we’re in one of the oth­er phas­es, which I find myself in, name­ly the clean-up phase. What was not in the appre­ci­a­tion that I’m prob­a­bly also at least to some small extent respon­si­ble for, just about every robo­call that you have ever received. And I am now in the process, at least I hope, to help clean up some of that mess. With that, thank you so much. Much appreciated. 

Further Reference

Henning Schulzrinne pro­file, Internet Hall of Fame 2013