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As the use of video calling continues to increase, 81 percent of European consumers see it as personally important for them that these communications technologies work together – or "interoperate" – according to a new survey. In a clear signal to industry, 86 percent – 70 percent strongly - want companies to agree to a common standard so that software and devices – including popular video calling programs like Skype, Facetime and Google Chat – are able to communicate with one another. Unfortunately, that is still not the case in video calling, as opposed to speaking on the phone or exchanging emails, where interoperability has since long been the norm.

European consumers appear to have a very healthy appetite for video-to-video communications. In a survey of 1873 consumers, conducted on behalf of Cisco, nearly 40 percent of those who use video calling said they will use video technology more often in the next twelve months, whereas only 4 per cent expect to use video calling less. Not unsurprisingly, what particularly attracts consumers to video calling is that it allows them to talk face-to-face to friends and family across the world. However, consumers are just as enthusiastic – and sometimes even more – about possible applications of video calling technology to other areas, such as health, education, and in the workplace.

Approximately 80 percent see video calling as an important way for patients in distant rural areas to talk face-to-face to medical specialists in cities without travelling, while 69 percent believe the technology has an important role in enabling teachers and other educators to hold live lectures and classes by video calling and to interact with students in real time.

However, consumers are even clearer in pointing out that they want multiple devices or programs made by different companies to be able to communicate with one another – a feature known as interoperability. Of those surveyed, 81 percent state -- 35 per cent extremely so - indicate such communication to be extremely important to their use of video, an unambiguous indication that consumers have little tolerance for potential glitches caused by a lack of interoperability. Given in the size of its market share in particular, 78 per cent of consumers feel Microsoft should open its Skype video technology. 72 percent deem Microsoft's decision not to make Skype interoperable to be unfair to consumers.


The use of video by consumers, government and business is growing at a staggering rate.  According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, in just three years, one million video minutes (the equivalent of 674 days) will traverse the Internet every second. Use of video calling services is also increasing. As video collaboration becomes increasingly mainstream, multiple vendors will have to work together to enable global scale and broad customer choice like consumers have today with phone, Internet and email. Currently, not all video calling technologies work together. Cisco TelePresence and many other video communications products connect using the same standards-based "language." Unfortunately, one of the most popular consumer video calling services, Microsoft's Skype, relies on proprietary standards, which hinders Skype's more than 600 million users from calling non-Skype users, and prevents businesses from reaching them via systems that offer services such as health care and job training by remote video.

Chris Dedicoat, president, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Russia, Cisco, says video is the most engaging medium and its use in every aspect of our lives is growing exponentially. “Consumers and business users are demanding video communications solutions work together and that making a video call be as easy as making a phone call. This is about freedom of choice, and we the technology industry must rally around open standards, as we did with telephone service, the Internet and email.”


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