Posted on July 7, 2020 by Casey Houser
One of the first devices we were able to bring Video Calling to was the VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone. This has enabled our testing team and customers to hold voice and video meetings with native apps on their Macs and PCs.
Our softphone is a powerful application. Its merits are worth repeating, and it has only improved since adding video calling capability.
In the development of our Video Calling feature we added 1-to-1 video calls to our softphone as one of our first steps. This allowed us to use an application we knew well as a test bed for what basic video chats would be like. It also gave us a proof of concept for how video would function on multiple operating systems.
The testing process for all the phones we’re verifying with Video Calling involves multiple steps. We check that 1-to-1 calling works and that video-to-voice chats work. Video conferences are then added to the mix.
Now our desktop softphone can handle all those situations and, in turn, has become an even more robust application.
VirtualPBX Phone System Features
We offer an extensive feature list for our Business Phone Plans that include necessities like Auto Attendant, Ring Groups, and Voicemail and reach into enterprise features like ACD Queues and Salesforce CRM Integration.
In addition to voice and video meeting capability, our desktop softphone can be used in all the features listed above. It’s also unique in its ability to work directly with customers’ Salesforce accounts so they can easily track contacts and reach leads with a single click to call.
Voice and Video Meetings
The VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone fits well in a number of business situations.
For smaller businesses that work remotely, it can help co-workers meet through voice and video meetings to keep everyone connected. Enterprise-level companies and call centers can benefit by adding the softphone to the computers of employees who complete a lot of calls each day.
We’ve had success with the VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone in our development of the Video Calling feature. Now we share it as an option for our customers in our Video Call beta test who want to become early adopters.
Interested in joining us? Get in touch today.
Posted on July 2, 2020 by Casey Houser
Our Video Calling beta test is in progress and has called for the need to address an important question: Is it legal to record phone calls?
The broad answer to this question is “yes.” However, the legality surrounding voice and video calls through our Business Phone Plans surrounds issues of one-party and two-party consent – the reason why you hear messages like “your call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes” at the beginning of many calls to customer service centers.
The Digital Media Law Project offers a detailed look at what one-party consent and two-party consent laws mean.
In short, the requirement of one-party consent could allow for a call to be recorded if only one party in the call – excluding the recorder – consents to the recording. When you make a call to a business, its disclaimer about call recording tries to gain the permission from the caller.
Two-party consent is different. Laws that require two-party consent ask for all parties of the conversation to give consent to a recording. This type of law has obvious ramifications for the recording of group calls using our Video Calling or Audio Conferencing features.
These types of call recording consent laws originate from a number of different legislation. The Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer, S.C law firm points out federal legislation – including the Federal Communications Act of 1934, Federal Wiretap Act, and Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 – that form the basis for federal law that, in general, requires only one-party consent to make call recording legal.
Many states, MWL Law says, follow this sentiment with their own legislation that only requires one-party consent. As of the writing of this article, though, 11 states have stricter legislation on the books that requires two-party consent.
What About Your Business?
Depending on where your business has residence, your answer to “Is it legal to record phone calls?” could be different than what you expect.
What we can tell you is that many businesses legally record their voice and video interactions with customers without stepping afoul of the law. Disclaimers are often necessary to gain consent, so when you’ve set up the proper notifications, you can reliably include call recording as a consistent part of your business practices.
Is Recording Phone Calls Legal?
VirtualPBX provides Call Recording for inbound and outbound calling. You can apply it at the user level, so some users on your system can record inbound, some inbound, and others both or not at all.
Our reach extends only to the point of offering you a high-quality product that’s capable of storing your conversations on your plan or in conjunction with Amazon Storage. We expect your business to complete its due diligence with regard to capturing conversations in a legal manner. Your local legal counsel is the first place to start when considering recordings for your own business.
Posted on June 29, 2020 by Casey Houser
The typical high-definition audio stream consumes about 40 Kbps of bandwidth. Now consider that a jump to low-resolution VP8 video conferencing more than quadruples that amount of data per second. Even more impressive is that HD video explodes the streaming requirement to a whopping 1,500 Kbps – greater than 37 times the amount of audio alone.
Interested in our new Video Calling feature, but worried about your internet connection’s capability? You’re in luck because most broadband internet connections will have the ability to transfer HD audio and low-resolution video without an issue. You might even be lucky enough to smoothly stream HD audio and video without a slowdown in the rest of your network.
Part of our job at VirtualPBX is helping you understand the manner in which video calls will take place on our network. We show a few figures below related to internet speed, so take a minute to perform a brief speed test to see how your connection measures up.
A Quick Note About Codecs
All audio and video information that passes through the internet requires the use of a codec, which is simply a computer program that encodes or decodes information. It allows two computers to communicate with one another by using a common language.
The common language our Video Calling service defaults to is VP8. This open-standards codec works in all major web browsers and is supported on many other hardware devices. It’s a great choice, therefore, to match well with testing desk phones and softphones as we prepare for the public launch of Video Calling.
We also support a few other similar codecs. It isn’t necessary that we dig into the details of these codecs and how they work. For most VirtualPBX Phone Plan users, it’s only necessary to know that these codecs help us work with a wide range of devices. You can begin a deeper dive into the VP8 codec with the Wikipedia articles linked here.
Video Conferencing Bandwidth Requirements
VP8 video conferencing bandwidth are the primary concern for video conferencing users. In short, people what to know if their internet will clearly and reliably handle video calls.
We have built our Video Calling feature to respond to the unique needs of all our customers. Some businesses will have more bandwidth to spare than others; this means they can consistently stream video at higher resolutions. However, a common internet connection does not bar you from participating in video. Video Calling will adapt to your needs as a user.
|Video Resolution (VP8)|| Bandwidth|
|HD Audio Only||40 kbps|
| Low-Res Video (240×180)|
+ HD Audio
|150 kbps||240 kbps|
| SD Video (640×480)|
+ HD Audio
|540 kbps||865 kbps|
| HD Video (1280×720)|
+ HD Audio
|1,500 kbps||2,500 kbps|
The table here shows the bandwidth requirements for various types of video resolutions that can be used with our Video Calling feature. Simulcast values may be required during conferences with many participants in order to accommodate their device capabilities.
You can compared the values here with the bandwidth shown in your speed test. How does your internet speed align with the values shown here?
We Can Help Out
Some of our other services can help you improve the quality of your internet connection. A Network Health Check can determine what’s causing unwanted performance in your network, and VPN for VoIP can tunnel all your VoIP traffic to give it priority and keep it free from fluctuation in speed. Although we can’t make your internet move more quickly, we can help you better understand the nature of video and how it can work with your current business capabilities.
We’re available to chat 24/7 and will be happy to discuss Video Calling with you at length. Whether you have a question about VP8 video conferencing bandwidth requirements or the devices on which our service will work, we’re happy to let you know how VirtualPBX will work with your business’s needs.
Posted on June 26, 2020 by Charlie Galaviz
Video calling empowers businesses of all sizes and industries to communicate and collaborate in ways that extend beyond virtual meetings. It can help you reduce operational costs and propel efficiency at your business in the wake of the uncertain times ahead.
As a telecommunications company with over two decades of experience, we’re no stranger to providing solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. Here’s why you should now, more than ever, begin using video at your organization.
1. Increase Productivity
Are your employees already working from home? Your small business could potentially save thousands on rent, office supplies, and utilities expenses by telecommuting full-time. According to Skill Scouter, 94% of businesses claim that video conferencing has increased their business’s productivity. In other words, moving to a virtual office is great for your pocketbook and your employee efficiency.
2. Improve Training and Reporting
As a remote-first team, we know first-hand the importance of utilizing video calling for training and informational purposes. Our Marketing, Sales, and Support teams rely on video screen sharing for explaining complex procedures, creating product demonstrations, and presenting analytics live. With video calls, you too can share your important documents with dozens of others in a company conference.
3. Expedite Your Interviews
Video conferencing allows businesses to forego in-person interviews in favor of quick and convenient video interviews that are just as effective. Save yourself the time and money on airline tickets, lodging, and meals for your interview candidates by conducting virtual interviews with them instead.
4. Boost Your Team Morale
Over the years we’ve learned that video calls can accomplish what voice calls cannot. While VirtualPBX offers both Voice and Video Calling (Beta) for 1-1 video calls, we intentionally conduct daily video meetings because it creates a stronger interpersonal connection among our team members. Placing a face to the voice and inviting our co-workers into our home office is akin to the watercooler conversation. This helps us communicate well and often.
5. Increase the Value of Your Meetings
Ever gathered a dozen people into a conference room only to find out you’re missing the dongle that connects to the projector? Huddling employees into a conference room can be an unproductive and unreliable method of communication. Keep your team on task with video-based meetings that get straight to the point.
Voice and Video Together in Harmony
At one time, professional video conferencing was a costly solution for businesses. With VirtualPBX Video Calling (Beta), you can now enjoy 1-1 video calls as part of our shift towards being a complete Unified Communications provider.
Want to take Video Calling (Beta) for a test-drive? New and existing customers can sign up for it today!
Posted on June 24, 2020 by Casey Houser
With our Video Calling beta test in full swing, we wanted to do something a little different this week. What you can read here today is a profile of several Yealink video conference desk phones.
We have tested multiple Yealink phones to work with our Video Calling Service. These desk phones are marketed to business professionals and small groups that need to complete video conferences, and it has proven an excellent phone for working with our new service.
Video Calling Aspects
What allows these phones to stand out among the competition is a focus on video. Both the T58V and VP59 include high-definition cameras that allow meeting participants to create a full presence through picture and sound within any video call.
With the T58V, users gain 780P video capability. This expands to 1080P video with the VP59. Both make sure that other video conferencing participants can clearly see the user in any type of office setting.
Similarly, screen size on each model is at the high end of desk phone models offered in the market. The T58V includes a 7-inch, 1024 x 600 screen, and the VP59 an 8-inch, 1280 x 800 screen for ease of use during calls and conferences.
The video signals sent and received through both models means to be crystal clear for the benefit of all members of a call.
Audio and VoIP Features
In addition to video capabilities, these models reach beyond what a traditional desk phone can accomplish.
- Each one offers a touch screen for easy access to phone options.
- They can connect to a user’s laptop to share content from those devices.
- Built-in Wi-Fi access lets users download and share files.
- Corded-Cordless capability lets the phone act as a base station for other DECT handsets.
The OPUS codec is available for each of these models so clear audio will be transmitted during any call. Moreover, noise filtering keeps background sounds from interrupting conversations.
These models also represent one of the greatest benefits that VoIP phones gain on phone systems like VirtualPBX Phone Plans. Our users, on all our plans and using any VoIP phone, can manipulate calls through features like Transfers and Hot Desking. Users can, respectively, transfer a call to another user or switch phones themselves during a live call.
This can be done with video as well. The video-based calls on our system will act just like audio calls on our system, so any type of call manipulation that would normally be possible with audio will be able to extend to video.
Further Testing in Video Beta
The breadth of available features on VirtualPBX Phone Plans requires an extensive amount of testing to make sure our entire system works well with all types of VoIP phones.
Yealink video conference phones give us the opportunity to test how C-suite level phones will perform with our plans. VirtualPBX COO Lon Baker explained the Video Calling testing process as the “start of a new era for the company” because of the mix between VoIP capability and the power of phones like these Yealinks.
That said, VirtualPBX is on track to include video capability on our Web Phone so any user can complete video calls with no extra expense for a new device. We’re excited to support the gamut of phones, from web browser-based phones like Web Phone to commercial desk phones from popular brands. It’s certainly a formative time, and we’ll keep you updated as the Video Calling beta test progresses.