Why are there too many options for hosted video conferencing?

First and foremost we need to understand what “hosted video conferencing” is.  Also we need to understand the ITU, (International Telecommunications Union), and its impact on “hosted video conferencing.”  Hosted video conferencing is any service that provides a video conferencing meeting with multiple locations to your computers, mobile devices or video conferencing endpoints in your conference rooms.   Reputable hosting services also connect a regular phone to the conference.  Telephone participants will certainly hear everybody and vice versa. The ITU, (International Telecommunications Union), establishes the algorithm standards the makes all this connect seamlessly worldwide.

Video conferencing is simple – The ITU made it that way by establishing the international algorithm or connection standards.  Hosting services certainly work within these standards making it easy to connect and collaborate to any endpoint.   Confusion continues because it seems there are too many options for hosted video conferencing.  There are two basic hosted video conferencing solutions – 1) Standards based video conferencing, and 2) Proprietary based video conferencing.  Standards based VC connects to any company with any video conferencing equipment or mobile device.  Proprietary based VC only connects to endpoints within its operating framework — One example is  GoToMeeting.  Everybody needs to be in GoToMeeting to meet.  Webex is another example of proprietary conferencing.  Both do video conferencing, however it’s limited in capability.  Additionally, these options are stuck in “communications silos.” It would be like buying a cell phone that only connected to those using the same phone or same service provider.

There is a very large untapped market for hosted video conferencing, thus many options are popping up.  Over time they will sort themselves out with many failures especially in the proprietary conferencing arena. Inevitably, hosted standards based video conferencing will dominate.  The ITU standard for computer screen sharing on a video conference is making proprietary web/video conferencing solutions obsolete.

You can purchase hosted video conferencing by seat, port, endpoint, etc. for a monthly fee – Seat, port and endpoint all mean the same thing.  Prices ranges go from zero per month, i.e. Skype to almost $100.00 per month.  There is a major value increase with the cost.  For example the higher end hosted service is more secure has more features and amazingly easy to use.  The higher end also provides “floating ports or endpoints.”  This means you can invite anyone to a meeting without them subscribing to buying a license or have the app dedicated to their computer or mobile device.  Some use the higher end hosted service with floating ports or endpoints as a company car.  Because they are floating ports and the app is free they can email a meeting invite with a link to the hosted service.  The recipient simply clicks on the link and downloads the free app. They enter their name and password or room number and they are in the meeting.   In renting two ports or endpoints those using the higher end hosted service can meet face to face with anyone in the world with any video conferencing equipment, on any computer or mobile device.  They can collaborate with computer input and annotate in real time.  The recipient can keep or delete the app. It makes no difference because the app is free to the recipient and not dedicated or licensed to their device.  This can certainly scale up to as many endpoints as a client needs.  If there is a quarterly management meeting with any number of participants, they can all meet in a secure, high end and simple to use virtual environment.  One way to describe the difference between a Skype meeting and a high end hosted meeting would be the difference of having a meeting in a phone booth vs. a large comfortable conference room with all the amenities.  Click on this link for a PDF file describing the difference between Standards based video conferencing and Proprietary conferencing.

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