WYDE Voice Ships Wideband Conference Bridge

Audio appliance integrates VoIP, PSTN, and brings HD quality to voice and other interactive Web applications.

By Ted Stevenson | Posted Mar 31, 2008
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Does the world need a new audio conferencing bridge? David Erickson, founder and CEO of Free Conferencing Corporation of America thinks so.

In fact Erickson is backing a new venture—WYDE Voice—that launched its innovative line of conferencing servers earlier this month at spring VON.

We recently spoke with Erickson and WYDE's vice president of global sales, Mike Eastman, and got the details on the company's VM100 and VM3000 turnkey appliances.

What's different about this offering? First off, "the WYDE bridge is capable of doing both PSTN and voice over IP," Erickson told VoIPplanet.com "We feel this is the only kind of offering that can be made to day," he continued.

At least as significant, though, is the equipment's use of the 'wideband' or 'HD' iSAC codec, which doubles both the sampling rate and the sample size of conventional telephony codecs—16kHz and 16 bits compared to 8 kHz and 8-bits for standard PSTN technology.

(iSAC is a proprietary codec developed by and licensed from Global IP Solutions. It has attracted wide notice due to its adoption by the Skype and Gizmo Project VoIP services, among others.)

"We think it's an exciting future—the idea that VoIP could put out a differentiation that could be higher-quality voice—and at a lower payload," Erickson said. "While we're delivering more quality, the payload that we send across [the network] is much smaller than that of, say, PSTN," he explained.

More and more desktop phones and softphones are appearing on the market that support iSAC and other wideband codecs, Erickson observed.

"If you have a voice gateway in front of the bridge, it can also support PSTN traffic," put in marketing VP Eastman. "We also have an AudioCodes card that can fit in our chassis that can handle PSTN traffic. So basically, you have a box that can do both PSTN and VoIP."

"The product comes in two flavors," Eastman continued. "The smaller version—the VM1000—supports up to 1,000 concurrent [iSAC] callers off a single box. The larger version—the VM3000—supports up to 3,000 iSAC callers or 7,000 G.711 callers off a single box," he said.

(G.711 is a codec developed by Bell Labs back in the early 1970s for use in digital telephony. It works with both VoIP and PSTN technologies.)

"Service providers are our primary market," Eastman said. "They're the ones we'll be targeting and zeroing in on first. But we think there are also some other target markets that are quite interesting because of the high voice quality and scalability of this product."

Those include distance learning operations, enterprises looking to save money by bringing their audio conferencing infrastructure in-house, and a variety of web-conferencing providers—"companies that are providing conferencing services that involve not only voice, but maybe whiteboarding and polling of the audience and other interactive features," Eastman said.

Furthermore, Eastman told VoIPplanet.com, WYDE has built revenue generating potential into the product thanks to a partnership with VoodooVox, a product that allows the insertion of short audio advertisements into the beginning of an audio conference.

He mused about further potential markets that might be opened up through this partnership: "It might work really well with social networks—companies like MySpace and FaceBook that have large communities. If they would add conferencing services that would be paid for by advertising, they could share in the advertising revenue stream, that might be a very interesting target for them." The possibilities are limitless.

The WYDE VM audio bridges come with a service and maintenance program. "They're very easy to maintain," Erickson asserted. "I come out of the bridge maintaining business and the whole reason we were willing to put these boxes in our network is their ease of use and maintenance."

List prices for the VM1000 and VM3000 products run $140 to $160 per port, however, "pricing to the end user," according to Eastman, "will be closer to $100 per port—per caller."

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