Skype and Polycom

On the surface, it may not seem like big news… Polycom a leader in conferencing and Skype a leader in VoIP come together to make a new product — a portable speakerphone that works with Skype. But, aside from allowing you to have conference calls with other Skype users the product is a harbinger of great things to come.

Initially this announcement will be a huge legitimizer for Skype in the enterprise. More enterprise customers will consider Skype since Polycom has indirectly put a seal of approval on its software. Virtually all corporations have Polycom speakerphones (Polycom has over 90% of speakerphone market share) so they may now be more comfortable using Skype service.

In addition, we will finally get the high fidelity VoIP conversations I have been writing about for many years. Yes, VoIP –contrary to popular belief– has better quality than the PSTN or public switched telephone network. Of course this depends on your network connection.

Remember that a CD player does more or less the same thing VoIP does. It converts digital signals into analog waves the human ear can hear. There is no reason a VoIP conversation can’t be as good if not better than the quality of a CD. You just need to have adequate bandwidth.

I have heard Hi-Fi conferencing products in Polycom’s offices and you can’t believe how rich and deep the bass is in conversations using their conferencing technology.

It is important to point out that traditional telephone calls using the PSTN are crippled as the high and low frequencies are stripped away. This is why there is such contrast between traditional telecom technology and Hi-Fi telephony.

But even though this single instance of Hi-Fi VoIP is important, what is more important is the fact that we will now see a stream of new Hi-Fi VoIP products that use stereo and are 3-dimensional in nature. This is the beginning of a wonderful trend towards VoIP showing it allows calls of superior quality, not inferior.

I see this movement as inevitable as we are all used to seeing with two eyes and when we are not on the phone, we listen with two ears. Talking on the phone with one ear is the equivalent of looking at your computer screen with one eye. It just doesn’t make sense. Thankfully, IP communications technology will allow us to leapfrog the PSTN with better quality. One day, we may look back on Skype and Polycom as two companies that started a trend that allows us all to communicate more clearly.

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Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor in Chief at TMC and founder of Internet Telephony, IMS and SIP Magazines. In addition he is the Chairman of the world’s best attended VoIP event, Internet Telephony Conference & Expo.

  • IP Convergence: Beyond VoIP, Beyond Cost Savings
    May 1, 2006 at 9:58 am

    VoIP and Audio Conferencing going mainstream

    It seems that we are getting past VoIP for telecommunications and reaching into real applications Enterprises use everyday.

    In reading Rich Tehrani’s blog regarding

  • Rick
    May 1, 2006 at 9:59 am

    Hey Rich, I want to add a few notes as well. First, this is a device connected to the computer (via USB), so audio is still presumably transported via GIPS voice engine to the PC. Polycom’s speakerphone is no different than any other Skype call-handling device in that it handles the sound post-PC, the exception being that Polycom has wide-band capability and other audio enhancements, so it can retain the 16MHz sampling rate of GIPS wideband codecs and other audio characteristics. GIPS is still enabling the voip audio capability, with Polycom simply retaining the audio stream quality without the usual narrowband devices we have seen in other products.
    My point is that Skype is high-fi on a Skype to Skype call already with the GIPS wideband codec and voice engine. Granted, a PC is not the optimal device to process sound (see Intel latest voip product ms600), but high-fidelity has been here since Skype. Polycom is merely extending the experience out the USB port to another device.

  • Onofrio ("Norm") Schillaci
    May 1, 2006 at 10:01 am

    Rich,
    Spot on, lot’s of good progress in taking VoIP into mainstream applications.
    Market moves by both Skype and Polycom confirm the future is here.
    And Global Crossing is right there adding VoIP access to our Ready Access audio platform in tests with key customers.

  • Rick
    May 1, 2006 at 10:22 am

    Addendum: Depending on how much audio processing is bypassed by the PC and performed by Polycom’s device, we could hear significantly better sound.
    This would be interesting to know.

  • Rich Tehrani
    May 1, 2006 at 10:51 am

    Thanks Rick! Great points.

  • J Nash
    May 1, 2006 at 12:13 pm

    Hi There,
    Just a comment on your analogy:
    “I see this movement as inevitable as we are all used to seeing with two eyes and when we are not on the phone, we listen with two ears. Talking on the phone with one ear is the equivalent of looking at your computer screen with one eye. It just doesn’t make sense. Thankfully, IP communications technology will allow us to leapfrog the PSTN with better quality. One day, we may look back on Skype and Polycom as two companies that started a trend that allows us all to communicate more clearly.”
    People use both ears even when they’re on a regular phone – one ear is the phone, the other is your local environment. You use both ears when you talk on a speakerphone, hi-fi or not. Of course stereo enhances the experience but adds value only if the content actually leverages the capability. IE. Is it important if someone’s voice is heard from stereo mix that accurately reflects their position relative to the microphones? (And did the conference organizer place any emphasis on the audio set-up, acoustics, etc.?) Does hi-fi teleconferencing actually deliver additional value unless it is a premium multimedia presentation?
    And looking at your PC screen with one eye or two makes no difference. It is a one dimensional image. Mono, or one channel, visual as it were.
    Cheers,
    -Jeff

  • Skype for Business
    May 1, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    Comments on Skype and Polycom

    Polycom and Skype just announced a new USB speakerphone. We often say that the hardware being used can have a tremendous effect on the call quality, and Polycom devices are optimized for high-quality calls. Rich Tehrani offers some comments from…

  • Al Bredenberg VoIP & CRM Blog
    May 2, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    Will Skype Disrupt the Business Voice Market?

    Two back-to-back announcements from Skype have got me wondering whether Skype could become a seriously disruptive technology in the business voice market. Last week I blogged about the Skype partnership with Angel.com. The Angel partnership a…

  • mantis108
    September 13, 2006 at 12:10 am

    What’s really disappointing, as an owner of several Polycom phones and as a huge user and lover of Skype, are the horrible reviews of this product on Amazon for early adopters.. looks like they really blew it on the mic used in the unit. Hope they do a Rev2 on this soon to address, and/or come out with a souped-up version of this.
    For now, I’m using my Polycom SoundPointPro phone with Skype via Nexotek’s very cool USB Skype Gateway product, which lets me have the best of both worlds.

  • jeux wii
    September 23, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Thanks for sharing such nice article here. I would like to know about Skype and Polycom. As my friend has this speakerphone. He asked me about its brief information. He do not know. So I like this site as I got that information from here. I will visit this site in future too.

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