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Will VoIP play a role in rebuilding the Gulf Coast?

Last night, President Bush announced a post-Katrina rebuilding plan for the Gulf region that will surely cost tens of billions of dollars- perhaps more.When you are talking about rebuilding infrastructure, you are talking about collaboration.

Last night, President Bush announced a post-Katrina rebuilding plan for the Gulf region that will surely cost tens of billions of dollars- perhaps more.

When you are talking about rebuilding infrastructure, you are talking about collaboration. When you say "collaboration," you are talking communications. That would be everything from phone calls and online whiteboarding of construction projects between architects, property owners and contractors, to reconstructing of emergency services for the 21st century.

President Bush also talked about boosting the educational standards in this region. Job training, modernizing schools- that's technology, too.

So what technologies do we use to rebuild an infrastructure? To rebuild a society?

Earlier this week, the FCC held an Open Meeting at a BellSouth Emergency Call Center in Atlanta. There were some key players there from the satellite, cellular,broadcasting and traditional telephony industries. And that was good.

But no VoIP companies. Not a one. And that's not good.

That perplexes me. Keep in mind that the New Orleans city government was only able to reconnect with the outside world when one of their IT staffers - who is a Vonage customer- got the idea to implement the solution at a makeshift city office at the New Orleans Hyatt- and managed to get eight Vonage lines going.

So where were any reps of the VoIP community at the FCC Open Meeting?

Now I yield the floor to VoIP pioneer Jeff Pulver, who said this after the hearing:

"Now, once again, the VoIP industry has been excluded from the dialogue. As a result, I fear that the public might miss out on the full story and may never understand the positive role that IP technology could play going forward in times of public catastrophe."

Couldn't have said it better- or half as well.