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XConnect’s VIE set to make video calls as easy as voice calls!

July 1, 2011

XConnect, a leader in next-generation interconnection and ENUM-directory services, has launched the global Video Interconnection Exchange (VIE) – the world’s first neutral federation for exchanging video calls across networks, operators, service providers, B2B exchanges and vendors.

VIE is said to make video calling as easy as making a voice call – whether using a laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile phone – from anywhere in the world. By connecting video “islands,” VIE will dramatically accelerate worldwide mass-market adoption of video calling and conferencing by service providers, enterprises and consumers.

Eli Katz, CEO, XConnect.

Eli Katz, CEO, XConnect.

So, how exactly is the XConnect VIE really going to improve video/telepresence calling? XConnect CEO Eli Katz, said: “The driver behind VIE is to enable ubiquitous video calling; to make video calling as simple as making a phone call. That  is, to allow the many different video services to interconnect, and allow person-to-person video calling regardless of the network, device and video service.”

What are the communication charges involved as of now? He added: “VIE – like all of XConnect services -is offered on a modular basis. Customers have a menu of services that they choose to “consume.” Pricing is based on their choices. Typically, charges are structured on subscription (joining fees) and then usage-based charges.”

What are these video islands that XConnect VIE shall connect? According to Katz, IP-based services, such as video and HD voice, are usually limited to within the service provider’s own network. In the vast majority of cases, calls that need to go between networks are still reliant on the PSTN interconnect infrastructure, which means IP-based services cannot be supported – creating “islands.”

For video services to work on a cross- network basis, each of the video services/networks needs to be interconnected via IP, avoiding the PSTN completely. So currently, a SKYPE video user can only make video calls to another SKYPE user; such a user cannot initiate calls to another video service, for example, Facetime.

Katz added: “Video islands” exist due to interconnection challenges above, as well as interworking problems between different services, such as:
* Not having prerequiste knowledge that device being called can support video calling.
* Differences in video and audio codecs implemented by video providers.
* Differences in signalling systems.
* Differences in screen size and frame rates.

He explained: “VIE is built on our Interconnect 2.0 platform – which includes carrier ENUM registry and multimedia IP interconnection hub services. By joining VIE, the video service provider gains an immediate multilateral (one-to-many) IP technical and commercial interconnect with every other VIE member.

“The carrier ENUM registry is utilised to discover if the party being called can support video and the type of video service they support (i.e., codecs). The interconnection hub handles the signalling and interworking challenges to ensure seamless interconnection of the call between the two video networks.”

XConnect is starting with five operators. Isn’t the number of operators (5) low, to start off with? What are the expansion plans? Specifically, what are XConnect’s plans for Asia!

Katz said that the five initial members of VIE include a mix of service providers and managed telepresence exchange providers, representing approximately 1 million video endpoint.

“VIE is available globally, and we are already in discussions with operators in Asia who have expressed strong interest in joining VIE. We will be making further announcements detailing members in the following months,” he noted.

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