Cisco survey: Users want video calling interoperability

The company's survey finds that a majority of U.S. residents want video calling services to work with each other

Most U.S. residents want the ability to place video calls to people using a different service provider, even though consumer video-calling services are now locked behind proprietary walls, according to a survey released Tuesday by Cisco Systems.

Seventy-seven percent of 1,000 U.S. residents surveyed by Purple Insights in August said they want video calling to be as easy as making a phone call is today. Eighty-three percent of respondents said they wanted Skype, the leading video-calling service for consumers, to be interoperable with other video technologies.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said they believe interoperable video will create more jobs and innovation.

An interoperable video-calling market will create significant new benefits, said Cisco, itself a video-calling vendor focused on the corporate market. "We think there's a critical opportunity in front of us," said David Hsieh, Cisco's vice president of marketing for emerging technologies. "Video calling is becoming increasingly prevalent. Interoperability will enable broad connectivity, and then you can unleash a whole set of economic and social benefits."

With interoperability, the use of video calling could skyrocket, he said. Cisco already predicts that in just three years, 1 million video minutes will traverse the Internet every second. "There's a tremendous opportunity to make video calling basically the prevalent way that people communicate in the next several decades -- if we can get this right," Hsieh said.

Cisco wants the video-calling marketplace to work more like the telephone network or the wider Internet, but the market is "fractured right now, where many video services cannot connect with each other," Hsieh said. He pointed to Skype's proprietary video calling service as one reason for the lack of interoperability. The Microsoft-owned service controls about 80% of the consumer video-calling market.

A Skype spokesman didn't respond to a request for comments on the Cisco survey.

Cisco called on video-calling vendors, both on the consumer and enterprise sides, to work together to create interoperability standards. While enterprise video-calling services have developed standards, consumer-grade services have not.

"Consumers in the survey are saying they want choice, and they want interoperability," Hsieh said.

In the survey, 87% of respondents said they want companies to agree to a common standard for video calling so that programs will work together.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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