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In Your Face

Entrepreneurs are on the screen--and technology scene--thanks to user-friendly videoconferencing.

During the Gulf War, there was a lot of hype that videoconferencing was poised to take off. Why all the talk? American executives and professionals were supposedly afraid to fly, due to concerns about possible terrorist activities. It turns out, of course, their fears were overblown, and business travel continued at a fast clip. And only the largest companies, with digital networks, could afford the cost of videoconferencing anyway. But guess what? Technological advances in the industry have continued, and now it appears videoconferencing may finally be ready for the small-business prime time.

Dallas-based Multimedia Access Corp. is targeting businesses with 100 or fewer employees with its Workfone VBX conferencing technology. The video routing system is similar to PBX telephone architecture, which firms with a good number of workers use to route calls, according to Glenn Norem, Multimedia's CEO. But the best thing about it is that it runs over conventional (or in techie lingo, unshielded twisted pair) phone lines. That means all you have to do is buy the VBX, install the software on the computers of designated workers, and you're ready to videoconference.

Gene Koprowski has covered the tech industry for 10 years and writes a monthly computing column for "The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition." Contact him at

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This article was originally published in the February 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: In Your Face.

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