Cisco Systems has unveiled a system that allows real-time videoconferencing on Internet phones for less than $US200 per user.
Cisco said the release of Version 4.0 of its CallManager software, designed for IP voice server systems, and Version 1.0 of its Video Telephony (VT) Advantage client software allowed real-time, person-to-person video sessions to be added transparently to telephone calls.
"When you place a call to someone else within your company, not only can you connect with voice, but the Cisco CallManager will set up the video connection between your PC and the other person's PC, assuming that you both have a (Web) camera attached to your PCs," vice-president and general manager of Cisco's IP communications group, Marthin De Beer, said.
Once a video call was under way, a user had access to the same kinds of features as were available with a regular telephone call, De Beer said.
"So you can put the call on hold, you can transfer the call to someone else, and the video will move with the call to that other person," he said. "And you can hit the conference button on the phone and [pull] three or four other people into an ad hoc videoconference. So it becomes a much more powerful and more effective way to communicate."
Customers who already owned CallManager voice software with a service agreement and Internet phones from Cisco could upgrade to the latest version for free and buy a PC package consisting of Cisco VT Advantage video software and Web camera for about $US190 per user, product manager of IP communication systems at Cisco, Darren Pryke, said.
The latest release of CallManager, which is sold separately from Cisco servers, is already available.
The new Cisco VT Advantage software and camera package would begin shipping in late March or early April, De Beer said.
The CallManager software was also designed to work with traditional videoconference systems from several manufacturers, including Tandberg and Polycom, Pryke said.