Videophone Incompatibility–I’ve Had It!

man on videophone

I think videophones are the greatest invention since dark chocolate peanut butter cups, but today, I’ve had it.

I had an interview set up this afternoon for my next book. The person called me using an ntouch by Sorenson. I used a Z-20 by ZVRS. We could not see each other.

This is actually old news in the videophone industry and I’ve been aware of it for a while now. But today, I became rip-roaring mad. If you know me, it takes a lot to set me off. When I can’t run my business because of videophone incompatibility, it makes for one cranky entrepreneur.

So I’ve had it. I’ve filed a complaint with the FCC, but my complaint is just one of many, many, many complaints that were filed with the FCC. It will take up to two weeks to submit my complaint to Sorenson and they have 30 days to address an answer to me.

A call to the FCC confirmed that they’re aware of the issue and working to ensure that all videophones are compatible, but the slow pace of this fix is frustrating. The ntouch was released ONE YEAR ago this month. Prior to this, I could call a Sorenson videophone, but since the ntouch was released, it’s been a real problem. I still can’t leave an answering machine message when I call a Sorenson videophone. A call to Sorenson provided no answers as to when this compatibility issue will be fixed, just that they’re “aware of the problem and working to fix it.”

Today, I couldn’t conduct business and we ended up turning to an alternative way to connect. That is totally uncalled for. Can you imagine Verizon and Sprint pulling this kind of thing off? If they so much as went one day where someone couldn’t make a call because of cell phone incompatibility, the media would be all over it.  Can you imagine an AT & T customer calling a T-mobile customer and not being able to access voice mail because of “incompatibility?”

For crying out loud, (and we can’t even hear it) let’s get this incompatibility issue FIXED so we can go about the business of connecting with one another.

16 replies
  1. Jon Ziev
    Jon Ziev says:

    Welcome to the world of Sorenson’s manipulation of FCC and Deaf Community! They fully KNOW what they are doing and is dragging their feets with a red herring on FCC’s eyes,ears and noses

  2. JulieAnn Chavez
    JulieAnn Chavez says:

    This very thing happens to me at least twice a week!! It is maddening and it needs to STOP!!! I’m with you 100% Karen!! I’ve filed plenty of complaints and here we are today it still goes on. They keep saying they are in the process of rectifying the issue but it still goes on. Sorenson tells their customers its a ZVRS issue which we know its not. Let us all unite and make our voices heard! We demand 100% communication access!!

  3. John Harris
    John Harris says:

    Well said Karen….In today’s videophone marketplace there is no place for incompatibility. The technology that Sorenson needs is READILY available. They have had plenty of time to fix.

  4. Steve Hammersmith
    Steve Hammersmith says:

    Sorenson knows it is their problem, they did it on purpose hoping users will use VRS instead to make more money. FCC is too slow and many of them dont understand what is going on. I can leave a msg to any VP except for sorenson. Gally has already done testings on this and was reported.

    I think we need to go to the media….


  5. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    I’ve had problem with Sorensen twice with in three months. For year, it acted weird. Three months ago, it splitted into four and bad color. I contacted Sorensen. They replied three weeks later. Meanwhile I was waiting for their replies, good friend of mine who works at Sorensen gave me step by step to fix the problem. It didn’t work. After they replied, they told me try four different ports name. It works but not in good way. They called me on VP and saw my screen looks so bad and said we will come down to fix it. A week later, a guy came and told me that I don’t need the DLink router because I already have ATT router. He removed Dlink and it works.
    So this month it’s not working, split four screen again and rebooting the whole thing. When the VP rebooted, my internet/tv/computer got rebooted. I was so mad. Also I keep getting a video call about the news, recipe, CEO. I don’t care about this crap! I get tired of answer the phone and it turned out a video message. UGH So I disconnected Sorensen.

  6. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    As always, you said it so well, Karen! It really is sad that this continues to be a issue. Your example is perfect. There is NO way this would be tolerated among hearing callers making calls between Sprint and AT&T or Verizon. Why on earth is it still acceptable for calls between videophones?

  7. Sean
    Sean says:

    This is why I use Vonage with an “800” number. I can very easily configure it to forward to one of several VRS providers and can easily “fire & hire” among VRS. Especially important when you want to switch providers while keeping your same number.

    Thus far, ZVRS has been working pretty good for me to date.

  8. Jared Evans
    Jared Evans says:

    While this is a bit out-dated (last May), Gallaudet TAP did industry-wide interop tests:

    The pink colored cells are when there were call problems and you can see which VRS provider had the most issues.

    I work on the ZVRS engineering team and we take any interop issues seriously and work our best to resolve any outstanding issues. In the case of the TAP matrix document linked above, we have resolved just about all of ZVRS issues, with the exception of few nTouch products.

    We are in a dialogue with Sorenson engineers in an attempt to resolve the last few outstanding issues and it may take some time before all kinks are fixed.

    You mentioned that “nTouch” was part of the call, do you know which nTouch product your friend used to make the call?

  9. W David Samuelsen
    W David Samuelsen says:

    The real culprits causing the problem are not the VRS companies. It’s the television and computer monitor industry. They still don’t have baseline standards when it come to VIDEO. Sound standards were finally set down last year by FCC.

    The interoperability problem will continue even after ZVRS, SVRs, Purple, etc agree because the manufacturers of televisions and monitors will change their standards all over again whether we like it or not.

    How about the latest one? OLED, two companies are at odds with each other already, Samsung and LG.

    What about Apple and Android. Same problem – where’s the standards for video interoperability? PLUS Apple’s determination to lock everybody to a single phone company at high cost.

  10. W David Samuelsen
    W David Samuelsen says:

    ZVRS and SVRS not able to see each other?

    I have no problem chatting with anyone who have ZVRS or Purple and I am SVRS ntouch user. I have several friends who have ZVRS and we don’t have problems. The real issue is what the other user is using, specifically what line being used. Cable companies use different technology, some causing problems like Verizon. Comcast don’t seem to hinder other than their modem outages. Also what telephone companies are operating in their areas and the technology they use. Some are so insane especially in more rural areas.

    So, quit blaming Sorenson for everything! Check your own home technology first. Sometimes it is installer’s fault.

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