Video Over IP brings immigrants closer to families


An enterprising bunch of immigrant entrepreneurs have set-up Internet based video conferencing systems that allow New York’s huddles masses to see and communicate with their families in realtime, reports The New York Times.

…it did because of the wizardry of videoconferencing, a technology first devised for chief executives to communicate with their far-flung underlings. The format is slowly becoming popular with the city’s poor immigrants as the most vivid way to communicate with their families back home.

Most of these store fronts have a small room with a computer-driven flat-screen television and a video camera where these video calls are made. Thanks to the easy availability of broadband, and low cost video over IP hook-ups, Philip Kasinitz, a professor of sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York very succinctly sums it up when he says

While it cannot recreate the warmth of a relative’s hug or the scent of a cherished child, videoconferencing is a “qualitative leap” in turning the experience of immigration into something less than a permanent break.

I remember my early days in the US, and when I rationed my dollars to make a call every sunday to my parents in India, paying nearly $1.20 a minute to either MCI and AT&T. Oh that was before Joe Nacchio initiated the price wars and destroyed the long distance business. Bad for them, good for us. This is one of the most heart warming stories about technology I have read in many many days.


Om Malik

Thank you for speaking about something that everyone else seems to like to hide under the carpet. How the all consuming capitalism tears apart families and how technology in recent years have been able to reduce the pain a little.I wait for the day when a VOIP call to India from USA will cost the same as it cost to Europe, Canada or Korea.

More power to you.

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