The benefits of video conferencing have been well-known for some time: reduced travel budget, facilitated collaboration, more cost-effective use of billable employee time, access to off-premise experts such as trainers or lawyers, access to employees in other locations, etc. However, until recently, the cost of the equipment, the special expertise needed to operate it, and low picture and sound quality have been major factors inhibiting the widespread use of video conferencing. For Houston and surrounding areas, those problems have disappeared. Video conferencing vendors everywhere have been scrambling to revamp their products in the past few years to make their systems better, more affordable, and easier to use and manage. But no one that I’ve researched has come close to the product that Houston’s Phonoscope offers in terms of price, quality, applications, and ease of use.
Phonoscope has been a technology leader in Houston since opening in 1953 and holds the nation’s largest privately owned fiber optic Metropolitan Area Network (MAN). Phonoscope provided Houston’s first cable television company, and in 1958, began the installation of the world’s first large scale “talk and see” two-way audio/video television network for the Galveston School District—the original video conferencing system. Today, Phonoscope supplies customers with the most innovative video conferencing available at a reasonable price without huge upfront equipment expense. With its massive fiber optic coverage in Houston, Phonoscope is near most business locations throughout the Greater Houston Area, spanning five counties to reach locations such as Baytown, Freeport, Magnolia, Richmond-Rosenberg, Splendora, Texas City and Willis, Texas.
Ten years ago, companies were paying on an average of $75,000 or more for a standard video conferencing system with only enough equipment for a couple of conference rooms. Now you can find room-based systems for as little as $5,000 to $20,000 and then you pay monthly for your broadband service–still fairly pricey for many small to mid-size companies. Enter Phonoscope with no equipment purchase costs. The Phonoscope high definition Video Conferencing System is supplied through the company’s utility services, and the equipment is provided and maintained as part of the monthly service. Phonoscope offers T3 Internet services, allowing video conferencing to transfer through fiber optics, putting their competition at the end of the line in regard to reliability, latency and speed. However, the true value of the Phonoscope’s system is found in the video conferencing applications the company offers: health services, legal services, corporate training, education, and more.
Medical professionals are available by simply dialing a four-digit number to Phonoscope’s Health Service through the video conferencing system. The benefits of this service to companies include employee benefit solutions, such as onsite medical assistance, immediate access to a physician, prescriptions and refills, health profiles, preventative screening, and chronic disease management. The service also provides employees with wellness training, smoking cessation programs, stress management, nutritional counseling and therapy, and a 24 hour TeleNurse. HR departments are aided with healthcare reporting, assistance in obtaining carrier credit for reduced health insurance costs, individualized healthcare plans and tracking of patient compliance, OSHA training/compliance, pre-employment screening, support with integrated data merge in records, and data capture that meets HIPPA guidelines.
Phonoscope has affiliated with a local law firm, Marc J. Krasney, P.C., to offer corporate In-House counsel services, via their Phonoscope units on a flat fee monthly basis. This service is for any company requiring dedicated in-house legal management without the need or resources for an in-house legal department or outside law firm. Gone are the days where you must drive across town and face traffic to meet with your counsel to discuss questions arising out of normal day-to-day operations such as contracting, leasing, corporate law and procedure, and employment law. By simply dialing a four-digit number, companies can visit face-to-face with a lawyer and at the same time review any documents. This law firm also assists with negotiating and signing agreements with customers, suppliers, employees, subcontractors, distributors, and regulatory agencies, and perform Corporate Secretarial Functions. Marc J. Krasney, P.C. can help you prepare materials for director and shareholder meetings, attend the meetings via Phonoscope, give advice on corporate procedures, store your corporate books, and produce minutes.
For lawyers, Phonoscope Video Conferencing System will soon connect their law firm to the Harris County Courthouse so the lawyer can appear via video rather than in person for motion hearings. Phonoscope Legal Service is partnering with key mediators through the Greater Houston area market to allow lawyers the ability to participate in mediation without leaving the office and offers a full service court reporting company with knowledgeable court reporters that will allow the firm to conduct depositions over the Phonoscope network. The deposition is conducted just as if the lawyer were actually in the room with the witness without needless delay typically associated with video conferencing, and the deposition is recorded in real time. Both the video and the transcript will be available immediately following the deposition (in a rough draft form) on a dedicated server accessed through password protected software from anyplace at anytime.
Phonoscope Corporate Training is another valuable application on the Phonoscope Video Conferencing System. Considering that the latest figures show that dealing with poorly performing employees cost businesses in the United States $105 billion last year, employee training may be one of the most important expenditures a company can make in terms of getting a serious return on their investments. The right training can improve employee performance and production, decrease management’s problem-solving time, and improve customer satisfaction. But, that training has in the past been expensive and frequently required that employees be off-site for a number of days. With Phonoscope Corporate Training, companies can reduce the time and money spent on training while receiving quality that offers high ROI.
All Phonoscope services, from cable to internet to High Definition video conferencing and applications, are provided over fiber optics — at the speed of light!
Vickie Adair is the senior technical writer at Media A-Team (http://www.mediaateam.com) and also publishes as a freelance writer. She writes for http://www.houstonmanufacturers.com, a website for Houston manufacturers, providers, and suppliers, and http://www.natural-products-directory.com, a directory of online business that sell or manufacture organic and/or natural products.