Kansas City, Mo. Southwestern Bell Telephone unveiled a new teleconferencing technology that doesn't need dedicated telephone lines or satellites.
Calling it a "truly magical experience," the regional telephone company on Wednesday showed how businesses may now use ordinary telephone lines to hold video teleconferences.
"We think this is going to have a tremendous impact on how our customers do business," said Randy Clouser, Kansas City, Mo., manager of product support for Southwestern Bell Telephone.
Like proud parents showing off a newborn, company officials outlined their new "SelectVideo Plus" service to members of the media and prospective customers at a Kansas City hotel.
SelectVideo Plus allows local and long-distance two-way audio and video communication within most parts of Southwestern Bell's five-state area. No dedicated telephone lines or satellites are required.
The system works using sets of video monitors and cameras, which can be controlled by users at both ends of a conversation.
Bob Kohler, a professional magician hired by Southwestern Bell to demonstrate the technology, carried on conversations and used the system to perform magic tricks with a woman in St. Louis.
The woman, who spoke to the audience through a television screen, used controls in St. Louis to manipulate a camera beneath the screen in the Kansas City hotel. That system allowed her to see Kohler and audience members in the hotel.
About 1,472 kilobits of information per second was used during the demonstration, employees said.
The system, intended for use by large- and medium-sized businesses, would cost $545 to $620 per month usage fee in Kansas, 4.5 cents per 64 kilobits per second of information usage fee, and a $12,320 installation fee.
Companies can purchase their own equipment for $17,000 to $75,000, depending on the sophistication of the system, or rent the equipment from Southwestern Bell.
Company officials estimated the hourly cost for using the system ranges from $5 to $62. They said that cost can be cheaper than frequent travel.
In addition to business, SelectVideo Plus has applications in education and medicine, Bell employees said.
The system should be available in all of Southwestern Bell's area -- Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas -- by 1996.