A provider of hosted videoconferencing services has added the ability to buy connectivity by concurrent connections as well as by blocks of minutes.
Blue Jeans Network said Wednesday that it now offers customers can now buy a number of virtual ports per month, which it says is less expensive than buying a multipoint control unit (or MCU bridge) for an on-premise system.
“It’s an opportunity for customers to buy a videoconferencing system that gives them tremendous multipoint capabilities as an alternative to plunking down hundreds of thousands of dollars in hardware,” said Stu Aaron, the company’s chief commercial officer.
It is priced at US$299 a port per month, although there are volume discounts.
Block pricing ranges from US$199 a month for three participants with unlimited minutes to US$599 a month for up to 25 participants.
Aaron said Canadian customers include the BCnet and Cybera high-speed research networks.
James McCloskey, a senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research of London, Ont., said Canadian organizations are interested in hosted videoconferencing services.
Small and medium-sized companies, which don’t have the volume of calls or the technical expertise to have in-house VC systems, are taking advantage of it, he said.
On the other hand, he added, companies that have private wide area networks connecting branches will prefer to leverage the WAN. Similarly, an on-premise MCU could make economic sense over three to five years if the volume of videoconferencing calls is high.
Some large Canadian telecom carriers offer hosted videoconferencing, he added, it’s not a big business for them. However, in the future it may be part of a bundled hosted service along with IP telephony or unified communications.
Blue Jeans Network is less than a year old and is aimed at making videoconferencing as easy as audioconferencing. One advantage of a Web-based system is that it can handle any system, from Skype to Cisco.
The system allows a host to schedule conferences, send out invitations.
Aaron said the idea for expanding pricing to a virtual port option came from customers, who told the company they had turned to its service as an option to buying MCUs for multiparty conferences.