Cisco calls for open video call standards

IT giant Cisco is voicing some of its concerns about Microsoft picking up web conferencing service Skype, and is approaching the EU courts to tinker with some of the fine print.

Cisco argues that Microsoft’s Skype buy has the potential to be anticompetitive. Although Cisco’s video conferencing services have a place in the enterprise, company spokespeople are worrying that Microsoft would use its position to block rivals. Cisco would be one of them.

Although Cisco claims it is fairly relaxed about the merger, in a blog post, executive Marthin de Beer says open standards are necessary for video communications if the market is to remain competitive.

De Beers says Cisco “does not oppose the merger,” but instead thinks the European Commission needs to place conditions to keep up standards-based interoperability, so one company doesn’t control the future of the market. 

Ultimately, Cisco is hoping to open up video communications between platforms. This could make it possible to dial in between Skype and, for example, a Cisco service. At the moment users are mostly locked in to their chosen platform. De Beers argues that “making a video-to-video call should be as easy as dialing a phone number”.

As it stands, Cisco believes the closed nature of video conferencing is frustrating both consumer and business users. He claims Cisco is not taking the action lightly.

Microsoft’s Skype acquisition was the largest ever made by Redmond. At the time, it was argued the buy was a route to cosy up to Facebook and integrate into Windows Phone, rather than running the company as-is.