If the word "videoconferencing" make you think of Mr. Spacely yelling
"JETSON, YOUï¿½RE FIRED!" into his videophone, or maybe Dick Tracy
talking to headquarters through his wristwatch, then itï¿½s time to update
your thinking, because videoconferencing is hot. In fact, according to the
Telecommunications Industry Associationï¿½s (TIA) 2001 MultiMedia
Telecommunications Market Review and Forecast, spending on the overall
videoconferencing market (equipment and services) will nearly double by
2004, rising from $7.8 billion in 2000 to $15.3 billion.
Why the boom? First, videoconferencing equipment is less expensive than
ever before. Second, product quality has improved, especially at the lower
end of the market. Factor in the falling cost and rising availability of
high-speed data lines (essential for streaming video over the Internet), and
itï¿½s easy to see why consumers are finally ready to embrace
videoconferencing technology. All of this is supported by data from the 2001
Market Review and Forecast, which predicts steady, double-digit growth for
the videoconferencing equipment market -- rising at a 21 percent compound
annual growth rate to reach $3.3 billion in 2004.
In its simplest form, videoconferencing requires only a video camera,
software, and hardware to facilitate a connection, and the equipment to
compress and decompress video and audio signals. The rapid developments in
technology, coupled with the decline in the cost of equipment, have shifted
the direction of videoconferencing to the personal computer and to desktop
videoconferencing. Well-suited to one person on a screen at a time usage,
desktop videoconferencing is composed of computer, video, and telephony
technologies that allow people in separate locations to work interactively.
The price to implement this technology ranges from $2,000ï¿½$7,000,
depending on features and capabilities. Fairly easy to install and use, it
is relatively inexpensive to implement when compared to room-based systems
that can cost anywhere from $15Kï¿½$30K for entry level systems, and go up
from there depending on facilities and needs.
To take videoconferencing a step further, the evolution of
telecommunications networks from circuit-switched technology to
packet-switched technology has also had a significant impact on the
videoconferencing industry market. And as IP-based networks and IP
multimedia technology develop, many users will choose the available
alternatives to the more expensive ISDN connection altogether by moving to
technologies that route voice, data, and video over IP networks. In
addition, the growth in the market is aided by the continuing emergence of
international industry standards designed to allow the interoperability of
systems manufactured by different vendors.
The proliferation of new products and standards-based systems is creating
numerous opportunities for value-added resellers. Now that companies have
far more choices at their disposal than in the past, and at rates that are
more affordable, choosing the right solution is more complicated. Companies
are looking to VARs to provide customized solutions that meet their
individual requirements and to implement those solutions in the enterprise.
All Systems Go
Whatever your customersï¿½ videoconferencing needs, whether desktop or
IP-based, there are a number of solutions available to fit the requirements.
- The Polycom ViewStation FX supports the H.263+ standard and works with
public and private PRI, V.35, and Ethernet networks. Its MultiPoint
Conferencing Unit connects to as many as four sites in full-motion
30-fps video. Users can make H.320 or H.323 calls through the systemï¿½s
peripheral link and embedded 10/100 hub.
- PictureTelï¿½s H.320- and H.323-compatible Intel TeamStation System
5.0 offers 30-fps video over ISDN- and IP-based networks. The
TeamStation runs on Microsoft Windows NT, so your customers can access,
share, and collaborate on Windows applications. Plus, remote management
and administration is easy with the optional Intel TeamStation System
- VTEL introduced Galaxy MiniTower, a PC-based videoconferencing
solution that utilizes H.323 IP Vtouch software. In January 2000, VTEL
announced the formation of Onscreen 24, a business unit focusing
exclusively on delivering high-impact, visual communications products
and services for the Web.
- 3M Company has four existing systems within the 3M VCS3000 product
line that possess the ability to be integrated into an existing
information technology infrastructure.
- Latitude Communications offers MeetingPlace, a
system designed to allow collaboration on materials and documents in
real-time meetings among workers and clients. This system is a shared
resource that allows all employees to arrange conference calls and
meetings from any location using a touch-tone phone or Web browser to
collaborate on materials in real-time, discuss
- LANscape, developed by VC, is an IP-based video communications device
with seven multimedia applications laced into one. It integrates
videoconferencing, videobroadcast, and video-on-demand to the desktop,
all in one application.
- The Sony TriniCom 5100 Quartet, which offers a four-site, built-in,
multipoint capability that allows the user to save money by not having
to deploy any external bridging service in order to execute a multipoint
All of these changes come just in time so that you may help your
customers cope with the increasing globalization of business. Ten years ago,
it might have been acceptable for a company to operate only within its
geographic area, but today, the competitive nature of the economy requires
organizations to innovate their systems in order to find methods to
communicate quickly and cost-effectively with partners worldwide.
Videoconferencing fills that need by allowing people to meet face to face --
without wasting time and money on travel. The options now available to
small-to-mid-size companies have opened up a new realm of opportunities that
increase productivity without significantly compromising IT budgets.
Sally Stanton is vice president, general manager, Emerging
Technologies Division, Ingram Micro U.S. Sally is also a board member of the
Global Enterprise Market Development Council of the Telecommunications
Industry Association (TIA). TIA is a leading trade association serving the
communications and information technology industry, with proven strengths in
market development, trade shows, domestic and international advocacy,
standards development, and e-commerce. Visit them at www.tiaonline.org.
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