What You Need to Know Before Buying Video Conferencing

By Jelani Harper
Updated: August 24, 2011

Video conferencing provides a viable solution to many needs endemic to a variety of enterprises of all size. Reduced travel costs, training accessibility, and lifelike audio and image reproduction make this system one of the most preferred forms of communications today. Therefore, it’s essential to know the fundamentals about the variety of network coverage possibilities, features, and choices of available systems before fully committing to a particular solution. Additional factors to be considered include enterprise size, current and projected communication needs, as well as those of potential correspondents.

Internet Protocol (IP) Networks

One of the primary reasons it’s particularly advantageous to utilize videoconferencing is the many benefits associated with the deployment of solutions based on IP networks, which are rapidly becoming the preferred form of the transmission of data packets for media such as internet, telephone and video conferencing. Before selecting an IP solution, however, users should be prepared to either upgrade or adequately prepare their existing IP networks to accommodate the high bandwidth associated with quality video conferencing options. The implementation of video conferencing over an organization’s internal network allows for desktop videoconferencing, which provides an ease of comfort and use not necessarily found in traditional ISBN conference room products, as well as increased reliability due to the fact that IP communication is based on a single connection, and reduced costs since most IP networks don’t have per minute charges or those based on distance.

Additional Costs

Training is foremost among the other costs associated with videoconferencing. Although some vendors provide training for staff, others do not. Furthermore, staff members may require additional training beyond that provided by a videoconferencing vendor, depending on the involvement and number of users for a particular enterprise. Other potential costs revolve around issues of integration, which should ideally be determined prior to purchase and may necessitate the procuring of additional hardware or software to use video conferencing solutions with other communication tools.

Features

Regardless of which type of videoconferencing solution is right for a particular enterprise (whether desktop or the traditional boardroom variety, high definition or standard), it is essential to determine which features will get the most use from staff members and clients alike. Common features include unlimited video calling, automatic call launching (which allows for point-to-point, multipoint and gateway calls), and web-based scheduling, in which all logistical aspects of the conferencing process—including room reservation, support staff and catering, may be planned accordingly. Organizations should attempt to gauge which features are available and most relevant to their communication needs.
 

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