Thursday, June 18, 2009


Polycom was co-founded in 1990 by Brian Hinman and Jeffrey Rodman, who were colleagues at PictureTel when they decided to form Polycom.

The first SoundStation conference phone shipped in 1992. The original SoundStation was followed by versions offering extended performance (SoundStation Premier, Premier Satellite, SoundStation EX). The SoundStation first shipped internationally (to the UK) in 1993, followed by other products and an expanding list of countries.

The SoundStation was superseded by the SoundStation 2 in 2004 when AT&T discontinued its DSP16A processor on which the SoundStation was based. Due to technological advancements during the nearly 10-year period, the SoundStation 2 exhibited more features, and more robust performance and sound transparency, although still limited to 3 kHz audio bandwidth due to its conventional analog POTS connection. At this time, it was also supplemented by the SoundStation 2W wireless speakerphone, which was a DECT system (WDCT in North America), and by the SoundStation VTX1000 wired speakerphone, the first such speakerphone capable of 7 kHz audio operation over conventional POTS telephone lines.

In December 2001, Polycom acquired ASPI networks, a company specializing in installed voice systems. Polycom worked with a large number of audio visual integrators offering its Vortex product. In 2007, Polycom introduced the Vortex successor, the Polycom SoundStructure Series.

In 1998, Polycom entered the circuit-switched desktop phone business by introducing a line of its SoundPoint phones. In the third quarter of 2001, Polycom entered the IP desktop phone business by launching the SoundPoint IP 500. Because it does not manufacture its own call server, Polycom has phones use Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to connect to more than 25 different call control platforms. Today, Polycom offers a full line of desktop IP phones from the entry level (SoundPoint IP 320) to a color display, full-featured, HD Voice (first introduced to the SoundPoint line in 2006), applications-enabled phone targeted at executives (SoundPoint IP 670). The company continues to expand its line of desktop and conferencing solutions.

In the first quarter of 2001, Polycom introduced its first Voice over IP conference phone, the SoundStation IP 4000. In 2008, the SoundStation IP 6000 and SoundStation IP 7000 models were introduced, both of which offer Polycom’s HD Voice and Acoustic Clarity Technology. In 2003, Polycom introduced its first HD Voice product, the SoundStation VTX 1000 conference phone. Polycom HD Voice is wideband audio (audio bandwidth extension to 7, 14, 20, and 22 kHz) offering more than twice the clarity of narrowband voice (3 kHz). In 2006, Polycom introduced its Communicator, the C100S, which was the industry’s first wideband speakerphone for a PC.

In 2007, Polycom acquired SpectraLink Corporation in Boulder, Colorado. SpectraLink’s product lines were comprised of Wi-Fi and proprietary wireless telephone systems as well as the KIRK digital enhanced cordless telephony (DECT) product line.

In 2008, Polycom also added applications enablement to its SoundStation and SoundPoint IP phones. The first product to market was the company’s Productivity Suite, which the company currently offers an open API for third-party developers.

In 2009, Polycom Voice Communications introduced two video-enabled products. The VVX 1500 business media phone, which is the first device to combine a personal video conferencing system with a fully featured voice over IP (VoIP) telephone with Polycom HD Voice and an open application programming interface (API) and microbrowser for real-time delivery of personalized Web content as well as integration with business applications. It also launched the CX5000 unified conferencing station by licensing the distribution rights for Microsoft Roundtable.

In most cases, Polycom is considered to be a stand-alone solution that is mutually exclusive to Web Conferencing. Adding secure, flexible collaboration to your VTC infrastructure that ties together conference rooms and remote workers has been extraordinarily difficult, depending on what solution you try. It is a VERY desired, and often requested feature, however, because of the flexibility it brings. Normally you are locked into a fixed point hardware intensive solution (Polycom, Tandberg, Sony, etc.) or a roaming point software solution (Web Conferencing Solutions)

During the course of us testing this, we had a very limited number of good experiences with a few solutions, including VIA3, which ended up winning Best of Class. VIA3 integrates easily and included everything we wanted—live video, telephone-quality audio, application viewing, joint document editing, instant messaging, and information sharing—while leveraging the existing H.323 teleconferencing equipment already in-place.

How VIA3 does it:

This solution is easy to implement, because most commercial VTC units have the ability to switch audio and video “sources.” Instead of dedicating the VTC room’s camera and microphones to a VTC “call” it can initiate or receive a “call” and utilize a VIA3 meeting on the PC as the source for audio and video. Once it does that, the VIA3 PC’s desktop with video can be shown, while the audio can also be heard in a standard VTC call. More importantly any remote users equipped with VIA3 and an internet connection can easily join the VTC meeting that the VIA3 PC is hosting! This feature allows you to quickly and effectively tie in partners, suppliers, customers, traveling sales teams, home workers, etc.

The physical act of connecting VIA3 to a VTC node is an easy one. The VIA3 PC is connected to the VTC Hardware as an “alternate source” for both audio and video. (Most VTC units have alternate source inputs and output available as AUX-IN and AUX-OUT for both Audio and Video.)

When connecting video, the VTC unit can select the PC as a video source and display the contents of the computer screen in a H.323 session with another VTC room in another location. You can also choose for VIA3 to use the VTC room’s camera as the “webcam” for a VIA3 meeting, if you wish.

To try VIA3 free for 30 days, visit