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Another Low Priced Video Conferencing System Arrives

Many small and medium businesses have been interested in video conferencing but not able to justify purchasing these systems. In addition, picture quality has been an issue with many systems, so vendors are now trying to address those issues.Polycom, one of the video conferencing market leaders, introduced two new systems: the Video Border Proxy (VBP) 4350W and VBP 200 EW appliances. These devices feature integrated network address translation, firewall traversal, wired and wireless routing, gate keeping, traffic shaping, and bandwidth allocation capabilities. The devices work with the vendors Lost Packet Recovery technology designed to minimize the impact of common problems, such as network congestion and packet loss, which can impact video transmissions on IP networks. The VBP 200 EW, which supports transmission rates up to 1M bps, and the 4350W, which operates at a maximum of 3M bps, are priced at $1,299 and $1,999 respectively.

Lower priced video conferencing systems have been becoming more common for a couple of reasons. Video technology has worked its way into the mainstream, so the cost of system components has been dropping. Also, small and medium businesses have been deploying high bandwidth services that can support video conferencing transmissions. The recent rise in gasoline prices may also have a positive impact on the video conferencing market. Higher gasoline prices translate into rising travel costs, and that change may impact small and medium businesses travel budgets.

As Polycom moves more squarely into the small and medium business space, it faces a few challenges. Traditional foes, such as Direct Packet Research and Tandberg, have also targeted this sector. New competitors, mainly from the VoIP sector, have been moving into the video conferencing space. Video conferencing technology has been integrated with more desktop applications, so its future as a stand-alone application has become murky. While the long term prognosis for vendors like Polycom is unclear, it should become easier in the future for interested small and businesses to deploy such systems.

How much interest does your company have in video conferencing systems? Would price hikes from gasoline related ventures change your mind at all? How much would you be willing to pay for one of these systems?