After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, a number of emerging industries were suddenly thrust into the spotlight, among them video teleconferencing. Some were predicting a fundamental shift away from traditional business travel. Instead, video conferences were painted as a safe, inexpensive, reliable alternative. While the airline industry has yet to regain solid footing, video conferencing hasn't exactly seen the boon many predicted.

ACT Teleconferencing (NASDAQ:ACTT) is one of the companies hoping to change that. The firm, which boasts European customers such as Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG) and BP (NYSE:BP), announced today a partnership agreement with Beijing-based telecommunications company China Netcom (CNC). As a result, the firm will have a greatly expanded presence in mainland China, offering high-quality audio, video, and Internet-based conferencing through CNC's existing broadband lines. Previously, Chinese customers were served through the firm's Hong Kong office.

ACT Teleconferencing is the latest company to capitalize on the fast-growing Asia-Pacific Rim region. The firm has had its eye on further penetration of this market, where revenues have been steadily advancing at 53% per year since it first set up shop in 1997. CEO Gene Warren has cited several targets of opportunity, most notably health care and long-distance education.

ACT Teleconferencing's international expansion follows other recent developments for the firm, such as a significant contract extension with AT&T (NYSE:T) and the introduction of ClarionCall II -- a next-generation conferencing product based on VoIP technology. All should help the firm catch up with larger rivals such as WebEx Communications (NASDAQ:WEBX) and industry leader Polycom (NASDAQ:PLCM).

In what has been a tough environment, ACT Teleconferencing has managed to double revenues from $28.3 million to $55.8 million over the past four years. Little ground, though, was gained on Polycom, which managed a double of its own to $420 million over the same time frame. Despite a $900,000 drop in the sale of videoconferencing equipment over the first quarter, ACT Teleconferencing's operating income grew from a loss of $476,000 to an $87,000 gain, and net losses were trimmed from $0.11 per share to $0.03.

The new revolution of video conferencing has yet to materialize, but if there is a rebound in the restrained levels of global IT spending, at least ACT Teleconferencing may finally see a positive number at the bottom line.

With a market cap of only $31 million, ACT Teleconferencing is hidden, but not quite a gem. To uncover real beauties, subscribe to Motley Fool Hidden Gems and lock in the lowest rate possible by June 20.

Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter owns none of the companies mentioned.