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Spranto Introduces an Internet Videoconferencing Client and Video Calling Service Using H.323

October 28, 2012

The world of videoconferencing just took a giant leap forward with the introduction of a new client and Internet calling service that will allow users to place video calls anywhere in the world using the international standard H.323 protocol. The client and service are free, too!

Back in the late 1990s, VocalTec attempted to revolutionize telephony by introducing an IP-based telephony client. At the same time, standard organizations like the ITU and IETF were busy defining how to make voice and video calls work over the Internet. The result was a set of standards that have since been widely implemented with products deployed in enterprise and service provider networks. Meanwhile, efforts by VocalTec and others to create an Internet voice and video calling service did not go very well, largely because of the abundance of NAT and firewall devices designed to block the flow of audio and video traffic.

That was when Skype stepped in with its proprietary solution that worked by “breaking all the rules.” Don’t misinterpret that comment. That was a good thing, in that the Skype engineers leveraged P2P technology in order to realize a voice and video calling service that has been extremely successful. However, though it was and still is a huge success, the fact remains that it is a proprietary solution. There is no room for third-party hardware manufacturers or software makers to build better, more competitive products. It cannot be used inside the enterprise for video communications and interconnected with other enterprise voice and video products. It’s really a solution for those in the closed Skype network, with the exception of the Skype-Out service that allows calls to the PSTN.

Spranto introduced a service this month that changes the game significantly. Like Skype, Spranto’s client and service are free for the world to use. However, what’s significant about Spranto is that it uses the widely deployed H.323 standard. To get through NAT and firewall devices, it uses some of the more recent enhancements to H.323, but it is H.323 nonetheless. With the service, one can call anyone else in the Spranto Video Network. Perhaps equally or more importantly, users can also make calls to anyone using an H.323 device on the Internet that is compliant with the H.323 Global Network requirements. For example, companies that have a Cisco VCS deployed at the enterprise edge can seamlessly communicate with users of the Spranto Video Network.

Spranto introduced a Windows client and a client for the iPad and iPhone, all of which are free to use with the Spranto Video Network. The clients support HD video calls (if the user’s hardware also supports HD). Making calls to users outside the Spranto Video Network is as simple as dialing the user’s email address (actually an “H.323 URL” like “h323:user@example.com”) or phone number, though supported phone numbers right now are limited to those registered with Dialed Digits. Likewise, users on the Internet can make calls to any Spranto Video Network user by calling their spranto.net address.