Doug on IP Comm – An independent voice on VoIP, telecom, and IP Communication

HD Communications – HD voice as the most cost-effective upgrade

Posted on: July 15, 2009

Videoconferencing and telepresence rigs provide more information for communications options, but HD voice may prove to be the quickest and most cost-effective upgrade for businesses of all sizes.

Don’t get me wrong; TANDBERG and Polycom and all the other visual-solutions have their place in the scheme of things, but they are A) expensive B) need more bandwidth and C) Need more care, feeding, and prep, due to A & B.

Real world example:  When I was hanging out with Jeff Pulver yesterday, one of his meetings was at the Embassy of Ireland. We were ushered into an elegant and beautiful conference room with a nice TANDBERG video conferencing rig in one corner, video camera adjusted at table height.

As Jeff started his dervish windup on the goodness of HD over vanilla voice, I looked over at the TANDBERG and started calculating how many tens of thousands of dollars it cost to buy it — then multiplied by 2,  for the end point sitting back on the Emerald Isle.   Let’s say, it’s around $30,000 for the single end point.

Compare that $30,000 to a $300 or so HD business phone and you’ve got two orders of magnitude of expense for the baseline videoconferencing setup.  Put another way with the simplified math – you can stick 100 HD phones on desktops and/or conference rooms for the price of one video end point.

Those HD phones will get a lot more day-to-day use than the videoconferencing rig as well.  People will just “pick up the phone” and if they don’t get who they need, they can leave a message, while the videoconferencing rig needs to have an arranged time of use so someone is on the other end — it’s not a spontaneous “Gotta call bob” type of thing.  In addition, people will tend to primp themselves and the video area to look good on camera and running around to prep for that conference.

HD voice is likely to have a lower peak impact upon bandwidth and the network, but more sustained.  Assuming a ratio of use of 1 phone per 10 deployed in E-whats-his-name’s equation, you’d have 10 phones x 64 kbps, so 640 Kbps of bandwidth distributed across the network using G.722.  Compare that to a single point “surge” of 2-3 Mbps for a typical videoconferencing rig.   You could spin out various scenarios to skew numbers either way, but you get my point.

Installation also is a lot easier than a videoconferencing end point; enter the videoconferencing system integrator to adjust for lighting, positioning, and plenty of other factors.

HD voice: Plug in phone to network. Phone number or SIP URI to dial another HD phone (OK, that’s simplified, but you get my point…)

With HD voice now a “baked in” option with Avaya and Polycom phones, upgrading to HD voice is almost a no-brainer for improving corporate productivity, unless you installed non-G.722/non-upgradable VoIP phones last year.


1 Response to "HD Communications – HD voice as the most cost-effective upgrade"


These are most excellent observations. Consider also the actual usage that such a conferencing system might engender.

My brother-in-law is very high up in IT at Exxon-Mobil. he oversees a large group of internal IT staff that manages IT infrastructure globally. They have a large and very impressive video conferencing installation. He routinely has large conference calls that touch multiple locations in North America, South America, Malaysia & the Middle East.

For >90% of their conferences they use only voice. No video. When asked they said that it was too much trouble to make/keep it working for the perceived value.

He admits that improved call quality could be useful given that they deal with various nationalities and accents.

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