Video Conferencing 101: What Exactly is Video Conferencing?

Video conferencing refers to interactive telecommunication systems that allow two or more locations to interact through video and audio transmissions. These days, it serves to allow businesses and organizations to reach out to their contacts and span geographical boundaries right from their own offices. It has been known to cut the costs of traveling and physically meeting with clients in order to conduct presentations for them. Also known as video collaboration, the technology brings together video and voice capabilities, making it the next best thing to actually ‘being there’ for various organizations and companies.

Video Conferencing Vs Videophone Calling

It is important to remember that there is a huge difference between video conferencing and videophone calls. Video conferencing refers more for bringing together more than two individuals in a meeting or forum through a telecommunications technology. On the other hand, videophone calling is a more personal service for individuals and uses smaller scale systems. Video conferencing helps to allow enterprises to create a communication platform so they can conveniently conduct presentations as if they are physically meeting with their contacts.

H.323 Video Conferencing

H.323 video conferencing goes through the Internet. It uses standard TCP/IP transport protocols in order to transmit audio and video from one point to another. This new technology in telecommunications is also called IP video conference. This collaboration technology is essentially made possible with abundance of cheap network bandwidth.

This form of video conferencing can easily be set up from any room, provided that the area has a proper network connection. For smoother video conferencing, network requirements have to be fulfilled.

Components of a Video Conferencing System

The core technology used in this form of communication is real-time digital compression for both video and audio streams. It requires codec software and/or hardware to allow for proper data transfer. The system will also need ancillary components such as a video camera, video display and audio devices for transmitting and receiving audio-video signals. The video camera should ideally be of the pan, tilt and zoom type. Video displays can come in the form of large monitors like LCD or plasma or even a projector. To complete the system, an ideally intuitive user interface is also required. The interface allows the user to interoperate with other H.323 video conferencing systems. It also makes it easier for companies to organize their contacts and make arrangements for video conferences as they go.

Network considerations

For simple video conferencing needs, video communication can be established with a commodity Internet access such as DSL connections or cable modems. However, these types of Internet access do not readily guarantee smooth communications as they may not be able to support the bandwidth requirements for better video conferences. An enterprise-scale H.323 video conference typically runs at 384 Kbps. It can deliver high quality TV video at 30 frames a second. For this to be possible, it has to be supported by an Ethernet connection. For best results, however, a full-duplex switched Ethernet is recommended. This provides every device connected to the network from ten to 100 Mbps of bandwidth. Using a full duplex keeps each person from creating hubs to run more than one connection at a time.