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The CN Interview with Arel's Philippe Szwarc

1 December, 2005

Philippe Szwarc was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Arel Communications and Software in June 2002. Philippe has over ten years experience as a senior executive in various telecommunications markets such as IP infrastructure, wireless Internet and enterprise networking in the United States, Europe and Asia.

We sat down with Philippe recently to discuss Arel’s news and accomplishments, the state of the conferencing and collaboration industry, the launch of the company’s newest solution, Arel Spotlight II and Arel’s new Plug-in for Microsoft Office Live Meeting: Arel Anyware.

Q: We understand that you recently launched a new high-quality video and audio solution for integration with Microsoft Office Live Meeting. What can you tell us about this new solution and how will it ultimately benefit end users?

A: Yes, we recently announced a new video and audio solution for integration with Live Meeting, Microsoft’s Web conferencing service, as well as with Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 and Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005. The Arel Anyware plug-in gives users the ability to conduct high-quality, multi-point video and audio conferences from within the Live Meeting framework. The plug-in was engineered for use over the most limited Internet connections while simultaneously retaining up to 16 video windows in a single session at any bandwidth threshold. The wideband audio really provides exceptional audio quality and makes a huge difference to the quality of the conference. It works over the most secure corporate networks and traverses firewalls, proxies and NATs. The end result is an enhanced Web conferencing experience that will help Live Meeting users worldwide minimize costs, increase productivity and streamline communications with colleagues, customers and partners.

Q: How easy it for users to get up and running with this new plug-in?

It’s actually very simple to get started. Users can quickly and efficiently join a video- and audio- enabled meeting through a brief installation and registration process within Live Meeting’s custom panel or initiate a meeting through Communicator. A webcam is required for full-featured video operability. The process is so easy, a meeting can be up and running in minutes.

Q: Can Arel Anyware be integrated with other Real Time Communications platforms?

A: Arel Anyware is a robust and flexible software solution that can be integrated easily with Microsoft Live Meeting, as well as other RTC platforms. This type of integration is directly in line with our vision to continue to provide the most robust tools and solutions that replicate the ‘in person’ meeting experience and drive revenue and productivity gains across an organization.

Q: Arel recently released a new version of its Web conferencing and collaboration solution, Arel Spotlight II. What specific features have been added to enhance the technology?

A: The new version includes important enhancements, like multiple endpoint compatibility. Arel Spotlight traditionally required a PC, webcam and an Internet connection for participants to join a conference, but the new flexible architecture of Arel Spotlight II allows participants to utilize a variety of other endpoints and devices to connect to a Spotlight session including regular telephones, mobile phones, IP phones, PDAs and legacy videoconferencing systems over a hybrid of networks including IP, PSTN, H.323, SIP and Satellite.

Another new feature of Arel Spotlight II is the software’s ability to traverse secure proxy servers without compromising network security and performance, allowing the software to work within any corporate environment. Arel Spotlight II also includes a new Quality of Service and a Dynamic Video Bandwidth feature, which improves video quality, performance and ability to share applications.

Q: How does the Quality of Service and Dynamic Video Bandwidth feature improve the way people interact and conduct business?

A: The Quality of Service manages the bandwidth utilization of Spotlight II in order to accommodate more complex application sharing while enabling simultaneous audio and videoconferencing at lower bandwidth thresholds than ever before. This allows broadband PC users working from corporate offices to collaborate with people out in the field who are coming in at lower bandwidths from PDAs or mobile phones without compensating video quality or loss in response time.

Similarly, with the Dynamic Video Bandwidth feature participants of varying connection speeds always receive the highest quality video available to their network. This capability ensures that broadband users leverage the full bandwidth capacity of their network to receive the highest quality videoconferencing experience possible, even if low-bandwidth users participate in the same conference, without any compromise to the real-time document and application sharing capabilities.

Q. How will enterprises ultimately benefit from these enhanced features and new robust capabilities?

A: More video and audio participants, complex application sharing with less bandwidth and a broad variety of access methods makes Arel Spotlight II a powerful collaboration tool for the enterprise. It is an all-in-one solution for companies looking to save money by consolidating all of their conferencing and collaboration services into one easy-to-use platform. Our customers report that by using Arel Spotlight, they now hold smaller meetings more frequently, which answer questions faster, and moves a group more rapidly to the next step. Decisions are made quickly. That’s what enterprises need to keep them on the cutting edge.

Q. What types of customers/industries are you currently targeting?

A: Arel’s flexible solution can accommodate any specific business need or function, from the smallest impromptu meeting to the broadest distributed training application. Currently, Arel is targeting large enterprises with geographically dispersed workforces that are looking for cost- efficient ways to bring their people together on a daily basis. Numerous companies in several different industry verticals have successfully deployed Arel Spotlight II for everyday use:
• A home-loan financial institution trains 5,000 agents in the field through interactive
distance learning, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel and accommodations
compared to traditional training
• A pharmaceutical manufacturer brings together research scientists from Germany,
France and the United States to share their findings in the latest cancer research
• A communications and networking company conducts quarterly webinars with
industry and financial analysts to keep them apprised of the company’s activities and
demonstrate new products
• A national supermarket chain introduces new products and trains employees on
everything from company policy to customer service
• An international car manufacturer launches a new fleet of vehicles, demonstrating
and presenting it’s capabilities to thousands of employees at dealerships around
the world
• An elite university offers online courses with sought-after educators opening up new
revenue-generating opportunities without compromising the quality of education

Q: Are you also targeting smaller companies with fewer employees?

A: Arel has just signed several agreements with leading service providers around the world to provide Arel Spotlight II as a managed, hosted service. In a perfect world, every contract would be for an on-premise enterprise solution, but the reality is that smaller companies aren’t necessarily ready to take that step or make that commitment. By offering Arel Spotlight II as a subscription-based service and an occasional usage service, corporations are now able to have access to the best-of-breed conferencing and collaboration technology without making a significant initial investment or requiring the expertise to manage the solution in-house.

Q: Do you believe that rich-media conferencing has transcended from a nice-to-have technology to a must-have business communication tool?
A: Yes! It is a given that today’s enterprises are geographically dispersed, and the only way to communicate effectively and efficiently is a robust solution that incorporates audio, video and application sharing in a single platform. The key to success is the ability to empower employees, customers and suppliers around the globe to contribute to the dialogue and hands on tasks that drive business.

Q: Thanks, Philippe. Good luck with Arel.


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