Is IT Expo Getting Cloudy Again?

Video Conferencing Goes Mobile---Maybe

Image representing SightSpeed as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase

I'm more and more hooked on video calling. Why? Well as someone who works from home, hotels and pretty much, anywhere, I like to see people. Having been at the early stages of video calling back first with SightSpeed whom I served as an adviser to and as the agency of record for leading up to their acquisition by Logitech, video calling has changed and will continue to evolve. Skype, with it's video capabilities, Google having Hangouts, Citrix Online's updated GoToMeeting with HD/Faces and of course the primal FaceTime from Apple.

Now we are seeing more and more uptake of devices like the Apple iPad, Android based Samsung Galaxy Tab (including the stunning 10.1" model that works on 4G via Verizon). With built in webcams faster processors, gorgeous and brighter screens that are better today than desktop monitors were just ten years ago and they work MOBILE. But the networks are not really ready, no way. No how.

Right now we're seeing the move towards 4G and just as we have seen the issues with AT&T's anemic network, where congestion caused by lack of towers, underpowered backhaul and a total abandonment of the obvious solution-Fixed Mobile Convergence based Wi-Fi offload which would have helped keep data consumption down. As Visage Mobile points out on their blog the rise in wireless cost is going to initially be a barrier to mobile video calling.

The rise of mobile videoconferencing and the elimination of unlimited data plans could impact efforts to control corporate wireless spend. Users that are already data hogs will become even hungrier should they begin engaging in mobile videoconferences.

It will be up to companies to address the issue with their mobile usage policies and strategies. Weighing the pros and cons of mobile videoconferences should help mobility managers decide if it's something that could benefit the organization.

It's not at all coincidental that the mobile operators began to eliminate unlimited data plans when smart phones reached a point of adoption saturation. This all leads to the need for even greater compression technologies that work with live, real time communications. It also make me think that more and more companies like Microsoft, Google and Apple need to become carriers or equity partners in carriers because the time is now for more new technologies to be adopted but the pricing strategies and data cap constraints are going to get in their way. Something has to change otherwise we'll be facing a period of technology stagnation while only the rich get to enjoy the new technologies, and thus video conferncing on mobiles is more of a maybe than a yes right now.


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Great point that mobile networks and data plans are not ready to support mobile videoconferencing, though a good-wifi connection can eliminate some of the capacity issues. Yet there are interoperability issues as well. While proprietary services like FaceTime makes personal videoconferencing easy, it only works for folks who use the right iPhone or iPad. For mobile videoconferencing adoption to reach its full potential, we’ll need to resolve the standards issues that stand in the way — such as universal addressing, registry and directory services, so different systems and networks can communicate with each other. We need a way to make videoconferencing work seamlessly across different devices, networks and platforms, and not make users jump through hoops to use the service.

Charles Studt
VP Product Manager, IntelePeer

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