Alteva and a VOIP phone for small businesses.
Voice over IP (VoIP) is a cool technology. It's not new by any means, but the development of newer and more sophisticated tools continues to amaze me. I recently joined an evaluation program to take a look at unified communication services from Alteva, based in Pennsylvania but serving companies all around the United States and the world.
The program I'm in includes a six-month free trial of a bunch of different Microsoft Communication Services including Live Meeting (what I am most interested in using and testing), Hosted Exchange, Sharepoint, OCS (instant messaging), and this very cool Polycom VoIP phone with HD Voice quality.
I thought "a phone is a phone" when I received it in the mail. But I was wrong. This VoIP phone is amazing. The HD quality is rich, so rich you better not whisper to someone else in the office while talking to someone on an HD phone because they will hear you. The part I like the most is it works seamlessly with my existing Comcast connection. Of course, the folks at Alteva pre-configured the device before shipping it, so I know the install was easier because of that.
You can read more about how it all works on this overview page from Alteva.
When I received training on the phone and Microsoft Communication Services package, the training folks had a more advanced phone at company headquarters that included a video cam that is worth mentioning -- it would take a snapshot or video of each person in the conference call (in their office) and display it in a panoramic view. So, imagine a long panorama style photo, in a video call, over VoIP, that shows each person in the room as if they were all sitting at a long conference table. I don't know how it works, but it was way cool.
I can imagine using this tool to host video conference calls where we're trying to conduct a multi-city sales presentation. How much more dynamic it will be to see everyone, hear everyone, in this vivid way. Will it help you close a sale? Quite possibly. It actually forces you to make sure you are at the top of your game!
I'll keep you posted on other things I learn about this Polycom phone and Microsoft Comm Services from Alteva in future posts. I'm hoping to use LiveMeeting to host a few events and record them, so I'll let you know about those, too.
What VoIP systems are you using in your company? Let me know by email or by the contact form above.