SaskTel aims to offer instant video calling

Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel) announced this week it has selected products from Nortel Networks Inc.’s Multimedia Communications product line in an effort to be one of the first to offer instant video and teleconference calling capabilities to its customers.

SaskTel signed an agreement worth US$5 million for the Brampton, Ont.-based company’s Multimedia Communications portfolio of products, allowing it to deliver multimedia services such as video calling, picture caller ID, conferencing and file exchange via the software applications included in the suite. The multimedia solutions offer new session initiation protocol (SIP)-based capabilities, according to Nortel.

The equipment maker will also supply its Succession voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) equipment, which will enable SaskTel to offer instant video calling and packet voice services to its customers.

Nortel’s Mike Doerk, senior manager, Multimedia Communications portfolio and marketing in Richardson, Tex., said the company’s multimedia software package is targeted to the mobile and distributed workforce’s horizontal users because of what the integrated applications can provide. “While on a call, you can (send) an instant message off or do a file exchange,” he said.

While the technology promises to marry VoIP, video calling and conferencing and instant messaging, he noted that it is “an emerging market, but we see this as a market that is poised to take off.”

Elroy Jopling, principal analyst at Gartner Inc. in Toronto, agreed that although videoconferencing is in its early days, SaskTel has been known as one of the pioneers of implementing bleeding-edge technologies.

“What SaskTel and Nortel are trying to do is raise the bar and have new applications and things that the user wants… [SaskTel] has an advantage in the sense that it has a closed environment and a smaller market that it understands very well and a market where this type of new technology can have an interesting breeding ground,” he said. He added that call centres could be a potential vertical to use multimedia applications.

Montreal-based Brownlee Thomas, a research director at Forrester Research Inc., said SaskTel’s main reason for adding videoconferencing to its line-up is that it already offers professional services to customers in Canada and internationally.

“These are supplementary-type services to help you differentiate your product line…SaskTel bought it because it has customers that want the service and is doing it to support its existing customers,” she said. While not a lucrative market, she noted that videoconferencing is well suited for e-learning and remote office users.

Also this week, TMP Technologies Inc., an online recruitment outfit and subsidiary of Monster Worldwide Inc. said it is trialling Nortel’s Multimedia solutions. It is exploring capabilities such as real-time messaging and personalized services under a single interface.

The companies are online at and