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This is part three of a three part interview series with Polycom Co-Founder and Voice Division CTO, Jeffery Rodman. If you missed part one, you can check it out here. If you missed part two, you can check it out here. Now, on to the exciting finale!

That does sound like an ‘uh-huh’ moment and there is no doubt that Polycom’s HD Voice provides outstanding acoustic quality, but given the current economic climate, why would a customer elect to purchase Polycom’s HD Voice line, when more basic, lower cost solutions exist?

Excellent VoIP phones with HD Voice are available at competitive prices today – HD Voice is a lot more approachable than even two years ago. Anyone who’s been around for a while knows that you don’t pick a tool because it’s the cheapest one in the store; you pick it because it gives the best trade-off for your needs between cost, capability, reliability, and other benefits. Telephones that are bought because low price is their primary virtue will still be weighing down an operation long after the economic environment has rebounded. HD Voice still has some reputation for adding additional cost, but that’s no longer the case. Polycom is extending HD Voice across its entire desktop and conferencing line, most recently with the addition of the SoundPoint IP450, a mid-range model designed to bring advanced telephony features and applications to cubicle/office workers handling a moderate volume of calls. You can expect to see more and more affordable HD Voice phones come to market in the future.

You are right. Polycom is well within the reach of even the smallest of small businesses. How about existing Polycom customers, though? What does Polycom say to the customer that bought Polycom IP Phones 18 months ago, who is now hearing how great HD Voice is? What is the case for tearing out their existing phones for ones with HD Voice?

In recent VoIP systems, HD Voice is usually added incrementally rather than by complete replacement. Because HD and non-HD phones can inter-operate, additional phones added to a system are HD-capable models. The narrowband phones will migrate to lower-need workers in an enterprise, and the newer HD Voice phones are placed on desks where they deliver the most value.

My one exception to this, though, is conference phones. Here, I recommend that businesses replace the older models as soon as possible. The extra bandwidth that HD Voice provides makes a startling improvement in the group setting, because conference rooms are usually so congested with air conditioner noise, room reverberation, people talking at once, people too far away, some people with accents, and laptops and projectors contributing to the general din. When a conference connection is changed from narrowband to wideband, the difference is astonishing because your ears, and mind, have the whole spectrum of speech to work with. Conversation is easier to understand, much less fatiguing, and misunderstandings (“did she say she got a letter from the SEC or the FCC?”) a lot less common.

Let’s get back to the ecosystem. As a reseller, how does Polycom’s HD Voice allow me to better serve my customers? Better yet, how does Polycom’s HD Voice allow me to make more money, or differentiate myself from other resellers?

Both Polycom resellers and their customers benefit from Polycom HD Voice. Polycom’s famous sound quality, ease of use and reliability bring better efficiency and comfort to the user, while also allowing the reseller to provide these distinctive advantages at lower cost of support. In fact, a number of resellers consider their HD Voice offerings a competitive advantage, because the truth is that once you hear HD Voice in action, you’ll definitely want to make the investment. The market is moving to HD Voice as part of the natural evolution of VoIP. What reseller wouldn’t want to offer customers the best products available today that also future-proof their customers’ investments?

None that I know of. Jeff, do you have any predictions regarding the timeframe for widespread adoption of wideband telephony?

Wideband has already happened in a lot of companies and service providers, and it’s accelerating. Peering is providing an exponential boost in connectivity among service providers, and seems to be evolving toward a virtual unified network. What will happen at some point (within five years, maybe as little as two) is that the ILECs will add it to their nationwide services, including dial plans and all the rest. We know this will happen; some are already using HD voice for everyday operations within their own offices, it’s just a matter of when they decide to light up the rest of the network.

To learn more about Polycom’s HD Voice technology, check out their website.

Garrett Smith

Garrett Smith is an author, consultant, and marketer with almost 20 years of experience selling and marketing VoIP solutions. Garrett has helped thousands of businesses select the right VoIP system over his career, in addition to helping hundreds of vendors, and dozens of service providers with their go to market strategies. This experience gives him a unique position in industry that allows him to cut through all the noise. Garrett has been named one of the most influential people in the VoIP, and has written over 3,000 articles about VoIP since 2004.

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