The coming explosion of video conferencing will bring enterprises a lot of benefits. Employees will communicate better with each other, and eventually with employees of other enterprises. Savings on travel costs will be substantial. But the trend will also bring a lot of headaches. Chief among these will be an explosion of bandwidth needed to carry all the video traffic. A new effort by Polycom aims to halve the bandwidth video conferencing will require. Coincidentally, the company is introducing a more modestly priced immersive telepresence system as well.
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Being able to make high-quality video conference calls as easily as regular phone calls represents a big improvement over the status quo. On one hand, it eliminates the aggravation of having to reserve a special video conference room and/or bridge, as with traditional video conferencing systems. On the other, it helps companies avoid the disappointing quality that often accompanies more-flexible services based on Web cams and PCs.
Vidtel's hosted video conferencing service provides such convenient, high-quality video conferencing on its own. But being able to make such video calls as an integrated part of a rich-featured phone service is even better, bringing the promise of unified communications closer to reality. A new tie-up between Vidtel and hosted VoIP provider SimpleSignal provides just such integrated capability.
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There were more advances than true innovations in the VoIP world in 2009. That's because some of the most important developments had more to do with commercial and political maneuvers than with technical creativity. Still, such maneuvers often helped spread the benefits of VoIP as much as did technical innovation. And collectively, the advances brought some already-evident trends into clearer focus. A key such trend is the increasing integration of voice with other applications and services. Another is the intensifying interest in HD voice. A third is the growing interconnection of VoIP services, in part in response to the possibilities that end-to-end HD voice offers. With such trends as background, here, in no particular order, are our top 25 VoIP advances of 2009.
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Google's long anticipated Wave online collaboration tool is going live with voice functions supplied by Ribbit. Wave lets users communicate via rich text, maps, photos, video and other means. Ribbit's contribution will let them talk and exchange voice messages as well. As such, it makes voice communication an integrated part of a larger collaboration process.
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It's clear that many VoIP companies aren't meant to be standalone telecom businesses – they function far better as providers of features and capabilities to other telecom businesses. The latest example of this is SabSe Technology's acquisition of Mobivox. Although Montreal-based Mobivox offered cheap VoIP calling services of various types, what set it apart was its so-called voice-activated user interface, or VUI. The interface let users dial by speaking rather than pressing keys – a significant benefit for mobile talkers. The addition of this capability will boost the attractiveness of the array of services SabSe is offering worldwide.
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VoIP-based conference calling is radically different from the traditional variety. The ability to integrate an IP-based service with Web and other applications transforms the experience for user and organizer alike. At a minimum, it can provide onscreen interfaces, and various other collaboration and communication methods besides voice. Iotum has been steadily upgrading its Calliflower conferencing service since its June 2008 introduction. And it has just added several new features that make the service quicker and easier to use, particularly in large conferences with plenty of outside participants.
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