Perhaps one telecom technology promise that has yet to seriously materialize, despite several efforts, is video calling. Every since the (or maybe before, depending on your perspective), there has been a fascination with video calling, especially over a traditional telephone. But for the most part, the video phone has remained only a cartoon reality. hopes to change that. Their new service has gone live and it offers video calling, video voicemail, and regular phone service, all over a wireline telephone set. Customers need a broadband connection and a Vidtel video phone to take advantage of all the features. There are a couple of packages available, starting at $14.95/month. The actual phone costs $199.95. Leading industry analyst Gary Kim offers more details on the new launch in this blog post.

Is the timing right for video calling? Tech savvy consumers have been able to do video chats on a computer for years. But one could argue that it never has really gone mainstream. Perhaps Vidtel’s claim of ease of use will help push it that way. It could end up being yet another reason for consumers to cut traditional wireline telephony service – go with wireless and a video phone. Vidtel’s timing probably isn’t that great though. Video calling looks like a “luxury” to me. In today’s economic climate, luxuries are hard to justify.

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4 thoughts on “Latest Video Calling Effort Goes Live

  1. Thanks for the post and coverage of Vidtel!

    One thought on the question of whether our service is a luxury or not: we are “bundling in” a voice phone line with the video service. So for $14.95 in addition to unlimited video calling and video mail, you also get a phone number, voice mail with e911 etc. For $29.95, you get the same thing but with unlimited voice calling in North America.

    This is the same or less as what most people pay for their current phone lines. So with our packages you actually *save* money over the current phone line but also get video. More for less – the best kind of offer 🙂

    Vidtel, Inc.

  2. Good point Scott – your product does seem to have a good value prop. What I mean by luxury though is the idea of video calling seems like a “luxury.” And while Vidtel seems to be offering a decent value, i still think you’ll have to convince people that the “luxury” is worth them “getting off their duff” to switch service to you. Kind of hard sell when many consumers are watching discretionary spending pretty closely. Again it’s a perception thing – do I need this “luxury,” even though from a cost perspective, it might be a better deal. Getting that value message past that luxury perception might be challenging. Good luck and keep us posted of your progress.

    Bernie Arnason
    Managing Editor, Telecompetitor

  3. The only way i see this working is if it will interface with other video chat services like skype or aim. Will you be able to video chat across those different platforms?

  4. Thanks for your question, Carl. Vidtel is working on interoperating with multiple video chat services. The first step will be a softphone to enable calling between the PC/Mac and a video phone on the Vidtel service. Our vision to enable video calling from any device (whether PC/Mac, video phone, mobile phone, TV, gaming device) to any network (GoogleTalk, Skype, AIM, Polycom video conferencing). This will also allow us to create a video calling directory so people will be able to find out who else can video call. Today, people are all on different networks and none of them connect with each other. We’re excited to change all that. Follow us on twitter or sign up for our mailing list at to see what’s happening :}

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