New Conferencing Player in Town, with a Twist

There is a new conferencing player in town, and this one has a twist or two. At the Spring VON show in San Jose, I met up with Wyde Voice, winner of the 2008 VON Innovator award, for producing the industry’s first wideband audio conferencing appliances with 16 kHz voice quality. Wyde voice is a start up company that is backed by Free Conferencing Corporations’ founder and CEO, David Erickson. It’s the result of one of their engineers getting the idea at the VON show two years ago, that they could create a voice conferencing appliance that would support 16-bit, 16 kHz voice quality for conferencing calls, an industry first, at an affordable price. Two years later they had their coming out party at this VON conference.

The new Wyde voice appliances utilize the Asterisk platform, and bridge the gap between PSTN and VoIP environments providing a conference bridge for up to 7000 concurrent users over PSTN networks and up to 3000 on VoIP. Pricing for their VM1000 model is $160 a port and $140 for their VM3000, which provides conference for a great price. In addition to providing high voice quality to begin with, they designed their codec to compensate for current network conditions, such as heavy network traffic, so that quality of the conference doesn’t deteriorate.

The first twists were 16 kHz voice quality and the price. The most interesting twist to me, however, was the addition of voice verification along with conferencing. Wyde will be offering Porticus Technology, Inc’s voice verification as a server plug in alongside their audio conferencing application, which opens up a different aspect of security in conferencing. Granted if you are doing conferencing with large variable groups of people, as in one-time conferences, briefings, etc., punching in the access code for the conference will remain the status quo. But think of the possibilities that being able to create voiceprints for employees in companies that regularly use audio conferencing, or special groups such as classes, network marketing entrepreneurs, committees, etc. The groups that could use verification instead of access codes to quickly jump on a conference call can improve speed and reduce frustration, particularly if someone is calling in on a mobile phone. Add to this the security of knowing someone else can’t enter the conference unknown, sounds pretty cool to me.

Wyde is marketing their products to both service provider and enterprise customers. They see, and I agree, a market opportunity in targeting different groups for conferencing, such as distance learning and social networking sites. The VM3000 and VM1000 are offered as turnkey appliances, but allow customers to customize features such as call flow.

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