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March 11, 2010

Vidtel Pushes Video Nirvana, Expands Telepresence

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

One of the dirty little secrets in videoconferencing was the royal pain in the rear to bridge dedicated video endpoints across wide area networks -- i.e. outside of your business network and/or service provider. This was/is a major pain in the rear for enterprises and SMBs alike since Fortune 500 companies would have all that expensive telepresence gear and find they couldn't talk with anyone but themselves without IT staffs working out the details. 

Vidtel (News - Alert) wants to be the facilitator, the Winston Wolf if you will, clearing away all the headaches and obstacles so all you have to do to set up a video conference is to have an endpoint and a subscription to Vidtel's hosted multi-point conferencing service. Vidtel takes care of the connectivity, providing a free, standard-based video calling address, a web directory so you can look up other users, and maintaining the bridge hardware so the IT guys don't have to get involved with setup when you want to videoconference with 25 different companies. 

What's more, to get a standards-based video address and listed in the online web directory is free; Vidtel gains the benefit of building the directory and becoming a one-stop shop around the globe. 

However, to connect multiple parties together on a video conference -- as opposed to a simple point-to-point connection -- you need a conferencing bridge, just like you do with audio conferencing. Vidtel charges for use of its hosted multi-point conferencing service -- c'mon, the company has to make money somehow. Already, Vidtel has a reseller agreement with SimpleSignal (News - Alert) (, so SMB hosted UC customers on SimpleSignal network can seamlessly and cost-effectively setup ad hoc multi-party video conferencing calls. 

Both Vidtel and SimpleSignal have big love for the Polycom (News - Alert) VVX 1500 business media phones, so the Vidtel/SimpleSignal service can connect three or more VVX 1500s through a simple dial-in number for instant multi-way video conferencing. I've seen the VVX phone and it's one sweet piece of hardware with a handy-size color LCD for videoconferencing; it also natively supports G.722 HD voice. 

SimpleSignal will start selling Vidtel's video conferencing bridge service in the second quarter of 2010, but you're going to hear a lot more about Vidtel in the weeks to come. Vidtel CEO Scott Wharton (News - Alert) has wrangled a number of speaking slots at VoiceCon Orlando so he'll be putting out lots of information about enterprise video implementation in about two weeks.

As an aside, Wharton has been chasing the ubiquitous video dream for about a year and a half, if memory serves. Vidtel started out as a consumer play and then – like many a startup – morphed in/focused on the business market and providing video interoperability.

Doug Mohney is a contributing editor for TMCnet and a 20-year veteran of the ICT space. To read more of his articles, please visit columnist page.

Edited by Kelly McGuire

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