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January 28, 2009

From VoIP to Video, the Service Provider Opportunity

By Erik Linask, Group Managing Editor

We’re in a recession — that statement is, perhaps as obvious as any. But, despite its obvious nature, what it veils is that, even in this economic crisis, an opportunity awaits communications providers.
As businesses nationwide are faced with cutting costs — even more than they might have anticipated — recurring costs are a predictable source for cost reduction, along with placing tighter controls on corporate travel. Most businesses have already mandated the latter, and many have at least considered options for cutting other costs.

One obvious cost-saving measure is to transition from TDM telephony to VoIP — after all, cost reduction has been the hallmark of VoIP from its infancy, even when its quality was, to be kind, less than it is now. Naturally, the potential savings it promises have already driven many businesses to VoIP. Today, now that communications technology has significantly increased the quality of IP-based voice services, there is little standing in the way of businesses moving to VoIP, especially as budgets continue to shrink, but businesses strive to continue to grow.
The truth is, any business can save money, receive reasonable, if not PSTN-quality voice, along with any number of added features and benefits that combine to make up the popular solution set known as Unified Communications (News - Alert). Visit the various Global Online Communities and Channels on TMCnet on any given day for a look at the latest voice solutions designed to improve productivity and reduce costs.
But there is a growing offering that many providers and equipment vendors have yet to recognize as being a market-changing service — video calling. Certainly, several have made past attempts at pushing video calling services, but these came at a time when most provider networks were barely capable of carrying voice traffic, let alone higher bandwidth video. They were on the right track, but, as is so often the case, they were ahead of their time. 
Now, in light of travel reductions in corporate environments, and simply the education of the end user in general — not to mention fixed and mobile endpoints capable of rendering high-quality video — the ability to engage in face-to-face communications from any location is coming into its own.
Most service providers have recognized the need to enhance their networks for video traffic, but most of them focus on recorded, or on-demand video rather than live communications. Thus, finding a provider that can deliver reliable, high quality video and voice over IP is not as easy as finding a VoIP provider.
That’s not to day they don’t exist — they do. In fact, two of them recently participated in a Webinar with Grandstream Networks, specifically to challenge the notion that IP video communications is not ready for prime time, and that the smart service provider has not only accepted video communications as a viable source of revenue, but has embraced it.
Grandstream itself has developed an attractive, feature-rich IP video phone, its GXV3000, which has also led it to alliances with service providers looking to drive the video communications market and differentiate themselves in a densely populated VoIP-only market.
Grandstream’s senior director of Business Development Khris Kendrick was joined by Scott Wharton, founder and CEO of Vidtel, and Michael Machonkin, vice president of Sales and Marketing at 5Linx, for 5 Ways Service Providers Can Expand Their Businesses Using Premise Equipment.   During the hour-long event, these three video proponents discussed the video communications space and the benefits it can deliver to both businesses and consumers, as well as how service providers can take advantage of this growing communications medium to increase their subscriber bases and drive ARPU.
Not only do Kendrick, Wharton, and Machonkin bring a wealth of experience in the communications space — Wharton, in fact, created one of the first IP video products for the consumer market during his time with VocalTec Communications — but Vidtel (News - Alert) and 5Linx are two companies with the strategic foresight to develop their networks for IP video communication. Thus, they can speak from experience as to the interest level, adoption rates, cost implications, and other aspects of offering IP video communications services.
To learn more about the growth of video communications, and how today’s video endpoints, like the Grandstream GXV3000, offer an enhanced communications experience — whether your customers are corporate CEOs or parents with college-age children — take this opportunity to hear from three industry insiders who can attest to the maturation of this market. Listen to the archived Webinar today. This is a growing space, and your customers will soon be demanding it. Take an hour now before the video space becomes as crowded as the VoIP provider community.
Also, to see the GXV3000, as well as the rest of Grandstream’s product line, visit Khris and his colleagues at booth #723 at INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO next week in Miami. Khris will be at the show to show you the IP video phone first hand and discuss how you can take advantage of this growing trend in communications.

Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Managing Editor of TMCnet, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to nearly 3,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erik Linask


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