Managed Videoconferencing Homes in on Price Point Differentiation

Brian Washburn
Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets

  • Reservationless telepresence – emulating the familiar dial-in audioconferencing experience – has proven popular, to the point that the major competitors either have it, or are launching it.
  • Telepresence providers with a large conventional videoconferencing installed base are now drawing from these benefits, as their clients expand beyond immersive endpoints.

As Current Analysis has begun its latest analysis and update to the world’s major telepresence and videoconferencing providers, some trends are already becoming clear. Below is a list of issues that are currently top-of-mind for service providers:

  • Reservationless telepresence, which emulates the familiar reservationless audioconferencing experience, isn’t new: In managed telepresence, Bell Canada debuted the concept, AT&T and Verizon launched support more recently, and BT and Orange Business Services are among the companies now adding reservationless options. Though AT&T and Verizon use different pricing models, both providers note rapid, enthusiastic customer adoption of video meetings that can be established and joined ad hoc.
  • Managed telepresence providers have added support for a range of standard soft clients plus access into multipoint sessions over the public Internet, for use with desktop and mobile devices. Customers’ demand for these services trumped misgivings by the providers over not being able to control QoS to off-net endpoints, especially mobile devices. Some providers even have their own branded mobile clients, whether through licensing with best-of-breed partners (e.g., Orange Business Services), or development in-house (e.g., Blue Jeans Network).
  • There are ways that some managed telepresence providers can work with Microsoft Lync video clients today, but general support for the Microsoft Lync video client is coming later in 2013. Bridging platform vendors are incorporating their support for the Microsoft-specific H.264 scalable video codec (SVC), which will then move on to service provider adoption and public release. However, Blue Jeans Network, by virtue of developing its own bridging platform, has managed to release Microsoft Lync client support for its videoconferencing services ahead of major telepresence providers.
  • In broader business terms, the major telepresence competitors see fewer greenfield opportunities and slowed growth in immersive system sales. Taking its place is broader adoption of other room-based and personal video platforms. Managed telepresence competitors that also have a large conventional videoconferencing base are seeing solid momentum from customers upgrading to telepresence as they mix immersive with non-immersive endpoints, or swap out platforms.

Finally, service providers are starting to see their paths between telepresence/managed video services and more general unified communications & collaboration (UC&C). Some providers are shoring up collaboration features for their video services; others are looking to incorporate more sophisticated video support for existing collaboration and conferencing software clients; and all are of course looking toward software clients that include Microsoft Lync, Cisco Jabber, Polycom RealPresence and potentially services such as WebEx. Convergence between various flavors of video and UC&C appears to have begun.

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