How Does Business Class Video Conferencing Work?

By Sheila Shanker
Updated: April 08, 2011

Video conferencing is not a new technology. It’s been around for a while, but only recently quality has improved, while costs have gone down. Video conferencing is a good option for reluctant business travelers. Nowadays, travel is expensive and tiresome. Many executives would pay not to go to an airport and be subjected to delays, x-ray machines, pat-downs and other joys of traveling. No wonder business class video conferencing is so popular. According to the Infonetics Research report as of March 2011,

Annual enterprise video conferencing and telepresence system grew 18% in 2010 to $2.2 billion worldwide.

The report from this well-known market research firm indicates that enterprise video conferencing and telepresence will more than double by 2015. Video conferencing works and technology is making it reliable, easy-to-use and affordable for many businesses.

How the system works

The idea is for a videoconferencing system to compress audio and video streams in real time. The compression can be done with a software or hardware, called a “codec,” which stands for coder/decoder. Voice and audio can be compressed up to 1:500, creating a digital stream of labeled packets that are transmitted in a digital network such as ISDN or IP (Internet Protocol). If you use modems, you will be able to convert the digital data into analog waves and utilize POTS, the Plain Old Telephone System. In the early 1990s, the utilization of IP technology gave videoconferencing business-class quality.

What you need

On a videoconferencing setup you need a video input, such as a camera or webcam. You also need video outputs – computer monitor, projector or TV screens. HD quality of communication is the standard these days. For your audio, you need an input, usually a microphone, and an output, such as a loudspeaker. A few choices exists regarding how the data travels within a digital network, such as ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) or IP (Internet Protocol). These days, many businesses select an Internet Protocol system because it is often affordable and simple to use.

If you’re going to conference with three or more remote areas, you may also need a “Multipoint Control Unit,” also known as MCU, which works like a bridge to interconnect calls from several places. However, some businesses have opted out of this setup and instead use a H.323 function known as “decentralized multipoint,” which usually makes video and audio better quality.

Don’t forget the “Acoustic Echo Cancellation” (AEC), which is an algorithm that prevents audio problems, such as echoes and reverberations.

If you’re concerned with security, you may consider creating a “Virtual Private Network” (VPN) service working with your Internet connection. This service is flexible and creates a protective overlay over the video connection.

Business class video conferencing is a good alternative to expensive and stressful travel. Individuals can exchange information and make decisions in real-time, while taking advantage of the latest technology with IP advances. Take a look at videoconferencing to consider how it can meet your needs -- you may be surprised...

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