The Wainhouse Research Bulletin
ONLINE NEWS AND VIEWS ON VISUAL COLLABORATION AND RICH MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS
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News in Brief
Digital Video Enterprises (DVE) has launched a
new personal videoconferencing system dubbed
the Executive Telepresence System (ETS). The
system is based on the combination of DVE’s
unusual display technology that hides the
camera behind the display system, thereby
creating an environment with good eye contact,
and the LifeSize Room video codec for high
Continuing its tradition of FREE, Free Conferencing Corporation of America, announced
Simple Voice Box 2.0, the industry's first FREE unlimited length voice mailbox system. SVB
2.0 proves the capability to easily record a message and allow individuals and groups to dial-in,
listen and even respond by leaving a voice mail. New features include: support for RSS feeds
via podcast, superior voice quality, improved voice box controls, an easy to use online account
management tool, message notifications via email, and an optional listener response feature.
With the new online voice box administration feature in version 2.0, users can log in via the
web and download, listen and/or delete new or old messages, and upload new greetings as well.
Additionally, the service provides the capability to access all messages via telephone.
Visual Nexus has announced two new deals. The company has appointed IP video specialists
A&T Network Systems of India to represent Visual Nexus. Visual Nexus also reports that EDF
Trading, an energy trading company, has installed the company’s collaboration solution to
improve communications between international operations.
Konftel has joinded the Avaya Developer Connection program. Konftel is the developer of the
Konftel 50 and Konftel 60W conference telephones, portable conferencing sets that work with
fixed and mobile phones and PCs. Both solutions have been tested for seamless interoperability
with Avaya 2400 Series and 4600 Series IP telephones. As a result, businesses can connect
Konftel 50 and Konftel 60W conferencing solutions directly to their Avaya endpoints via a
small switchbox without having to make complicated adjustments.
Pactolus announced that Teletek, Turkey's leading IP carrier and Verscom, a top network
developer/integrator in the Middle East, have selected Pactolus' highly scalable & customizable
carrier IP voice services suite and SIP service creation/development platform.
ACT Teleconferencing, which rolled out its ReadyConnect Video service in Asia earlier this
year, is now introducing the service in the UK. ReadyConnect is an automated video bridging
service based on technology developed by Applied Global Technologies. The technology also
supports streaming and recording of video sessions. All functions can be controlled by the
videoconferencing endpoint hand held remote.
The Wainhouse Research Bulletin Page-1 Vol. 7 #19, May 18, 2006
Another Look at Consumer Videoconferencing
Worldgate Ojo: We had a chance this week to look at two consumer
videoconferencing products up close and personal. We finally got our
hands on the Ojo from WorldGate Communications. This slick
videophone appliance was designed with the technophobic user in
mind. Simple Simple. Once you plug in the RJ45 IP cable from your
router and the power cord, you just call WorldGate (on your PSTN
phone) to initiate service (have your credit card handy) and have the
technician make sure all is working correctly. The service is $14.95
per month, for which you get a server that translates your telephone
number into an IP address. The service is Ojo-to-Ojo only, and no
multipoint. The videophone really emulates the standard telephone
with a built-in answering machine. For example, Ojo stores its own
phonebook, it also stores an outgoing video message, and can record
about 20 minutes of incoming video messages. We tried it out and it
worked as advertised. Two versions are available. The black 900 model sells for
$399, but is currently available with a $150 rebate coupon. This is the model we
had. The silver 1000 model costs $100 more, but also has a PSTN connection so it
can really replace your telephone. The way this works: when you dial a number,
the Ojo Service determines whether the number is a registered Ojo videophone and
if it is, it makes the connection to the Ojo IP videophone being called. If it isn’t
(for example, say you are calling to order a Pizza at the local shop), the Service
signals your local device to send the call out over the PSTN.
Comments Ojo is the proverbial “grandma” videophone. Simple. The phone
answers incoming calls in audio-only mode and a screen pop informs you to hit the
“select’ button to start the camera. – very user friendly and sensible since you don’t
always want to be seen. There are separate audio and video mute buttons as well.
However there is no headphone jack or handset option, at least on the model 900
we tested, so privacy is not really an option. We thought the video was more than
adequate, though it takes some getting used to the 5” screen with a strange aspect
ratio. The audio on a few calls was fine; but on most there was a noticeable white
noise hiss that we found extremely distracting. The Wainhouse Research Bulletin would like
We were curious that the product marketing you to join us in thanking our 2006 sponsors
manager we spoke to didn’t have one in his who help keep distribution of the WRB free:
office…. Hmmmmm. Ojo is available on line and
in selected retail outlets. Bottom line: this is an
interesting product with excellent ease-of-use and AGT MVC
very reasonable price-performance. But it still Avistar RADVISION
suffers from the “who you going to call?” Codian SPL
problem. You can call Ojo subscribers only. If
grandma wants to see the grandkids, you need to
buy two Ojo phones and two Ojo monthly Convoq TANDBERG
subscriptions. While the service isn’t that DSTMedia Ubiquity
expensive, it doesn’t provide much either, Huawei Visual Nexus
especially if your calling audience is so limited.
SightSpeed V5.0 Beta I also got a quick look at Konftel AB Wire One
SightSpeed V5.0 beta (the official release is set for
July). Like Ojo, SightSpeed is a service. Unlike way fine print: Sponsorship of the WR Bulletin in no
implies that our sponsors endorse the opinions
Ojo, SightSpeed basic service is free, and expressed in the WRB. Nor does it imply that the
SightSpeed is PC-based. So if grandma can’t Bulletin endorses their products or services. We
handle Windows or a Macintosh, this won’t be a remain an equal opportunity critic.
The Wainhouse Research Bulletin Page-2 Vol. 7 #19, May 18, 2006
good solution for her. But SightSpeed has gone to great lengths to make this videoconferencing
application and its user interface as simple as it can be. Behind the scenes however, SightSpeed
uses proprietary technology to deliver outstanding audio and video quality with very tight lip
synch and low delay at DSL-type bandwidths. (The company will be supporting H.263 and SIP
in the future, though it is not exactly clear where these developments will lead.) With
SightSpeed, you get a buddy list and one-click
calling, but video calls are limited to other
SightSpeed subscribers (remember, though, that
subscriptions are free); so while you still have the
“who you going to call?” problem, you can get
others to sign up without incurring costs. Of
course, your buddies will need to buy a camera if
they want to send video. The free service also
includes video mail that recipients can open in a
flash-enabled browser (see screenshot of a video
mail sent to me by CEO Peter Csathy), video blog
recording, and a new community calling function.
The video mail uses SightSpeed streaming servers,
not mail attachments. The for-fee service ($5/month
or $50/year) adds multipoint (up to 4), longer video
recording and storage, and a free webcam.
SightSpeed 5.0 adds a PSTN connection that appears completely analogous to Skype-In and
Skype-Out. You can also select a PC-to-PC communication mode that is just voice. Version 5
will also have an enhanced contact list that shows status, presence, and includes one-click
connection buttons. The new software includes a new video codec (H.263) with many quality
improvements as well as enhancements to the company’s firewall traversal techniques.
The business model here is pretty intriguing, but one familiar to CEO Csathy who came to the
company from MusicMatch. The strategy is to get very large numbers of users of the free
service, and then convert some percentage to paying customers. I think MusicMatch went
down this path and got to about $60 million in revenues before being acquired by Yahoo!.
SightSpeed’s approach here is to partner with companies like Creative Labs (webcams) and
Sonic Solutions (Roxio) who touch millions of customers a year as well as with cable operators
looking for a value added service for their broadband customers. It’s all a numbers game. But
unlike products in years past, I believe SightSpeed has hit the price-performance-ease of use
metric where videoconferencing can be a genuine consumer application. Having said that, the
company tells me that 30% of its customers are small/medium businesses.
SightSpeed screen shot showing call control tab SightSpeed screen shot showing PSTN out dialing
The Wainhouse Research Bulletin Page-3 Vol. 7 #19, May 18, 2006
Wainhouse Research Summit Update
The Wainhouse Research Summit has become the industry's
premiere networking event, with conferencing professionals,
integrators, and vendors interacting over plans, successes,
difficulties, and future intentions in voice, video, and web/data
collaboration products and services. The 2006 Summit, with the
theme of Unified Collaboration and IP Communications, begins with presentations by WR
analysts on the state of the industry and then follows with perspectives from enterprise and
SME end users, including Charles River Ventures, Pfizer, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Legal
Seafoods, and North Network. Presenters include CIOs and IT managers as well as video
professionals and will discuss implementations of VoIP, videoconferencing, and webcasting, as
well as IP networking strategies. The Summit agenda also includes two presentations from
independent consultants/columnists as well as interesting views from Microsoft and Cisco (or
is it Cisco vs. Microsoft?) together with our standard interactive panel discussions.
The previous events were sellouts, and space is limited again this year, so plan ahead, and book
early. Hotel rooms will definitely sell out. Details at www.wainhouse.com/wrsummit. Register
online while space still permits.
Continuing on the success of last year’s event, the first day (July 19) features a Technology
Showcase that includes short presentations and hands-on demonstrations of a wide variety of
products and services for enterprise conferencing and collaboration. Attendees will be able to
see for themselves in a side-by-side comparison a range of desktop video products,
sophisticated IM-based interfaces, and web-based collaboration solutions.
The WR Summit is a highly interactive event. So bring your tough questions and be prepared to
walk away with a new view of where IP communications and conferencing and collaboration
solutions are headed in the next 2-3 years.
This year’s Gold sponsors are AGT, Arel, LifeSize, Masergy, MCI, Microsoft, Polycom,
RADVISION, and TANDBERG. Technology showcase participants (July 19) include Arel,
Cisco, Codian, inSORS, Masergy, MyVRM, Netbriefings, Polycom, Radvision, Starbak,
Tandberg, VerizonBusiness, Wire One.
The event will be webcast this year as well. Webcasting services are being provided by
Netbriefings while streaming and videoconferencing will be over Masergy’s MPLS network.
We have made special arrangements with the Colonnade Hotel for a preferred room rate for the
first 50 room of $165 per night. Rooms are nearly sold out already.
Featured Presentation: Streamlining Business Processes with Unified Communications
The average worker uses over ten different types of communication devices and
applications. Yet with all these tools, it's still difficult to keep up with the pace of business.
The fact is conducting business has become more complex due to increased workforce
mobility and virtualization. The Cisco Unified Communications system integrates core
communications tools, including telephony, video, web conferencing and messaging, with
presence and personalization functionality to enable unprecedented levels of business
agility and productivity. The solution addresses communications complexity for more
effective communications that help streamline business processes. This session, presented
by Vickie McGovern, Director Unified Communication Applications at Cisco, will describe
and quantify communications challenges and unified communications benefits.
People & Places
BT Conferencing, Rob Bellmar is leaving the company; Tom Hamilton, acting Head of
Global Operations and Infrastructure; Mark Hopwood, acting Head of UK CMC Operations.
Viseon, David Hahn, VP Engineering
The Wainhouse Research Bulletin Page-4 Vol. 7 #19, May 18, 2006
One on One with LifeSize CEO Craig Malloy
I’ve had a chance over the past two months to gain some
personal experience with high definition videoconferencing,
courtesy of LifeSize Communications. I can say this - it’s a
whole new experience and one that I believe many end users
will want for themselves. The videoconferencing industry
today is only on the first step of HD, and the products will
certainly improve and mature over time, but I have to admit,
the images can be breathtaking and the sound is outstanding.
From background discussions I have had with several
vendors and several other engineers, I’ve come to conclude
that HD is much harder than anybody thought. It’s not just a
few more pixels; it’s a whole new aspect ratio (16x9), new
camera designs, and with H.264 video at full frame rates, we
have significant processing challenges.
Well, it’s been a year since LifeSize announced the first HD products. It’s no secret that some
of the first LifeSize systems were rough around the edges, but many of the problems seem to be
behind them, and a new software release is just a few weeks away. I thought I would contact
CEO Craig Malloy to discuss the trials and tribulations of 1) HD and 2) being the new kid on
the block. Part of this interview took place at 1 Mbit/sec in a (flawless) point-to-point LifeSize
video call; the remainder was a three-way call using the embedded MCU in Craig’s system.
WRB: You announced your first set of products about one year ago. What's happened in the
CM: Our most important achievement over the past year is to ship the world’s first high-
definition video communication product, LifeSize Room. We first demonstrated it last year at
the N+I show in Las Vegas. It took us until December to get it customer ready. We’ve been
shipping now for more than 5 months. We have also signed and trained 39 direct resellers in 20
countries and our sales momentum is starting to build.
WRB: Several of the products announced a year ago are not yet shipping. Critics would say
you underestimated the engineering challenge. What would you say?
CM: I’d say that it was quite a challenging project. We simultaneously invented a low cost
high-definition video communication camera, a feature rich HD codec capable of producing
1280x720 30fps H.264 video at 1mbps, and invented the world’s best conference phone. We
have made some sacrifices with other parts of our product line to ensure that LifeSize Room
was the best video communication product ever built, and it is. The rest of our line is coming
along nicely, and we have some very compelling high definition video products coming over
the next 12 months.
WRB: Most videoconferencing users are used to 384 kbps and might object to a requirement to
provide 1-4 Mbps for video. Are you finding bandwidth requirements to be a problem?
CM: The main reason that most video calls are made at 384Kbps-512Kbps is that the picture
never gets any better even if you call at 2Mbps. CIF is CIF and video calls look like a VHS
tape that you left out in the yard all winter. We have spoken to hundreds of resellers and end-
users and bandwidth is rarely, if ever, an issue. And for the small number of users whose
networks are not yet capable of 1Mbps calls today, our products provide substantially better
resolution and picture quality at any bandwidth. 768Kbps calls are just slightly less than HD
resolution and 512Kbps calls are the resolution of a DVD movie. We make hundreds of calls a
week to locations around the globe over the open internet at 1-2Mbps and in the vast majority
of cases, the calls are perfect, without any packet loss. It’s really quite remarkable. It would
cost more to call those on an analog phone.
The Wainhouse Research Bulletin Page-5 Vol. 7 #19, May 18, 2006