Conferencing in a Box
has a different and cheaper way of doing videoconferencing
Their product is a box that you hook up to a
T1 line and to your
PBX system. The box does web conferencing and teleconferencing, just
the way the services (Webex, YourTelco) do, but at a fixed cost,
which can turn out to be cheaper than the service.
To you and me, a Sonexis behaves just like a Webex web conference. (There
are some differences in appearance, of course.)
To set up a
web conference, you URL into an administration area, give
it a password, and set up the call. to view it,
you URL into the place where you've been invited.
One advantage over, say,
Webex web conferencing is that you don't have to provide the
PPT file to them in advance. The box is in house and can
use your internal network for access to the file.
Ditto for teleconferencing. to set up, you log in and create the call,
then provide the users with
a dial-in number.
We haven't done a feature by feature check, but Sonexis did
hold a briefing for us that used their box. To us, it looked
like a standard web briefing, something we get a lot of. There was
no difference in speed, ease of access, or core features.
How is this possible? Well, Sonexis got its start selling the same
boxes to the myriad telephony service providers that sprung up post-deregulation.
After that market went bust, they shifted gears and decided to sell to the
Clearly a box--theirs or anybody's--gives you more control and
potentially the advantages of a fixed cost. In particular, if you use
more (up to the capacity of the box), you don't pay more.
We have no way of verifying this, but
Sonexis tells us that the fixed price box and the per-use
service will cost about the
same amount over the long run if you do, say, one
web conference with 12 participants once a week. Do more, they say, and the
box saves you money.
It is not at all easy to check up on this claim. Sonexis charges you for a certain number of
ports in the box, which you can use as much as you want. The teleconference
provider charges you a per-minute surcharge over the normal telephone costs. And
the web conference provider does a mix of these--a certain per-hour cost for
up to a certain number of participants. Comparisons are difficult.
One industry client of ours did try to see if they would break even with the box. But it turned out that it was quite difficult to figure out how much they were really spending on teleconferences and web conferences. Try
reading a corporate telephone bill these days, and you'll see why.
If you do take a look at Sonexis, let us know
But it does appear to us as if this really is a better idea.