CompareBusinessProducts got a chance to interview Tsahi Levent-Levi of the Radvision blog VoIP Survivor. Radvision is a company that makes tools for VoIP developers and that is particularly strong in video conferencing and other visual solutions as well as in unified communications. Tsahi is a prolific and thoughtful blogger in the VoIP space and is particularly good at building community and providing a unique take on the news.
Q: You are a well-known blogger in the VoIP space and although you are writing for a company blog you cover the whole industry. How do you see the role of your blog?
A: Our company (Radvision) provides technology for VoIP developers. It puts me face to face with a lot of VoIP developers - some doing mobile clients, others working on consumer electronic devices and others still are developing servers for the IMS core infrastructure. This places me in a unique position where I can cover a lot of ground and provide assistance to these people - not only by licensing them our products but also by sharing our experience and information. The blog allows me to do it in an open way with a lot more people.
Q: What do you see as the defining characteristics that set modern telephony or VoIP companies apart from older telcos and even mobile phone operators?
A: The access and freedom that VoIP companies have to technologies and to the end customer. Telcos and mobile phone operators are focused on providing value to their customers within a set of rigid limits - some which they have placed on themselves, or have due to their infrastructure and others which come from the fact that they are regulated.
VoIP companies don't have these restrictions - they have the freedom to develop and test services rapidly by employing the open internet for this purpose. They have no legacy to deal with, so they can try new services or business models with ease.
Q: What are the most exciting developments in VoIP and telephony that you have seen in the past year in terms of changes that are coming that will benefit businesses?
A: There are two developments that I try to follow closely these days:
1.VoIP becoming part of a rich set of communication tools that people are using: texting, chatting, twittering, blogging, calling, etc.
2.The growth in video communication - this is something that fascinates me - to look at an industry that is "just about to boom" for 10 years but hasn't, and still believing it is going to grow - and I do believe this is about to happen real soon.
Q: How about changes that you anticipate in the coming year?
A: The adoption of old telcos and mobile phone operators to VoIP, which will practically kill a lot of VoIP companies. People tend to underestimate these telcos, but somehow I think most of them will survive and thrive. They have better access to the end customers and at the end of the day - they provide the simplest service. And if there's anything to show that they are waking up to squash the threat it is the new One Voice initiative, which utilizes IMS over LTE to provide voice and SMS services.
Another trend is the proliferation of video telephony. It is going to migrate from large enterprises, where it resided in the past decade into small businesses. This trend is possible due to the increase in bandwidth and processing power.
Q: If you could recommend four services or products, what would they be?
A: This is a hard one. I don't tend to be an early adopter. Most services I use are those that my company utilizes for its daily communication. This is why I tend to regard telcos as the clear winners as long as they play their cards right.
Q: What do you see as the major problems facing the voice, VoIP and communications industry in general in the coming year?
A: I think that voice is relatively a done deal - you use it today if you have a phone service from your cable company for example. It has moved into the background. The next challenge for VoIP is the mobile aspect of it, but that too will be solved and not by startups but by telcos.
The real challenge is in video communications. We know how to deal with video communications over managed networks - not over the open internet. The new H.264/SVC technology is quite promising but will take time until it finds its way to all video terminals, at which time this too will be a solved issue.
Q: If you could recommend one thing to a startup business that needs to get its first phone service, what would that be?
A: The one thing I can recommend is ease of use - not for someone who is already signed into the service, but for someone who is about to try the service for the first time: from finding the startup's service, to registering to it and his first use.
Our thanks to Tsahi Levent-Levi for being a good sport and answering our questions about the voice and VoIP industry and for giving us all his insights into what is happening now and where we are headed.
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