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7/27/2011
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Telesphere Cloud Videoconferencing: Buy No Hardware

Cloud-based service for enterprises and SMBs builds hardware leasing into monthly fee.

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Businesses seeking to use videoconferencing without making big hardware investments, or any hardware investment at all, are getting a new option from Telesphere, a company currently best known as a Voice over Internet Protocol telephone provider to small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

Telesphere announced availability of its VideoConnect cloud service Wednesday, including an option for leasing of any videoconferencing hardware to be built into the monthly fee, avoiding the capital expense often associated with implementing the technology. That is likely to be a popular option, given that about 75% of Telesphere voice service customers opt for a "fully hosted, fully bundled service" where Telesphere provides all the hardware, Telesphere CEO Clark Peterson said in an interview.

"This bridges the gap from very large enterprises down to SMBs," Peterson said. "It gives you the simplicity of a Skype, together with the quality of telepresence."

Telesphere's solution is the first implementation of BroadSoft's BroadCloud, a software solution for service providers based on Polycom's UC Intelligent Core architecture. As a user of BroadSoft's operating software for voice services, Telesphere sees expanding into video as a natural next step. Telesphere provides CounterPath's Bria softphones as the desktop software PC and laptop users can employ to join a videoconference, but sessions can also include participants who join using Polycom equipment or any standards-based videoconferencing system.

Telesphere said the service is available now, but did not announce pricing. Peterson said Telesphere customers will be able to get point-to-point video calls for free, but fees for group video calls will be charged on a per call usage-based model. Telesphere will also offer options for businesses to pay a flat monthly fee, he said.

The briefing on the announcement was offered over the VideoConnect service, with representatives from Polycom and BroadSoft joining Peterson and Telesphere CTO Sanjay Srinivasan on the call, allowing us to see how the software automatically switched the video feed to feature the current speaker in a larger window.

"Our goal is to make videoconferencing just as easy as making a call," Srinivasan said. Meanwhile, Telesphere is able to maintain high-video quality by offering service over a private MPLS network, he said.

"This shows the power of a video-based cloud as a real alternative to an on-premises implementation," said Susan J. Hayden, executive VP of Polycom's worldwide go-to-market organization. Although this is the first implementation of BroadSoft's product architecture, it's not the first cloud-hosted version of Polycom videoconferencing, she said. For example, 8x8 announced a videoconferencing service earlier this month. The Telesphere service is part of a broader trend toward cloud-based video.

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