We Know: All About Video Conferencing Services

What Is video conferencing?

Videoconferencing, or videoteleconferencing, refers to the activity of any telecommunication system that allows two or more locations to use two-way video and audio technologies to communicate simultaneously in real-time or near-real-time fashion. It's also been called visual collaboration.

Teleconferencing is as old as television, and was originally set up with cable or dual UHF/VHF links. Not until ISDN-sized bandwidths were commonly available did convenient and inexpensive teleconferencing become usable and practical. By the 1990s, IP (Internet Protocol) based teleconferencing became widely available. Today, you can find cheap (though limited) teleconferencing with such widely used technologies as MSN Messenger and NetMeeting.

How do you set up a videoconference?

A fully-functional videoconference needs the following elements:

  • Sound capturing technology, usually found in the form of an omnidirectional microphone. These work best if mounted on the ceiling of your videoconference room.
  • Sufficient bandwidth in a network between the two (or more) conference centers to support the teleconferencing.
  • Video input in the form of a video camera.
  • Video output easily visible to all members of your conference.
  • Speakers of sufficient quality to maintain sound quality and be easily heard by the conferees.

You can find dedicated systems with all these components incorporated into a single console, or you can use a desktop system to have more individualized teleconferencing system. If you have more than one conference center, you will probably need more bandwidth. If you're using a large dedicated system, you'll probably need a multipoint control unit to conference more than one center.

Videoconferencing today

With constantly-improving technology, videoconferencing has moved far beyond the boardroom. Today, you can find teleconferencing taking place in the classroom, especially remote rural areas; in medical and health applications such as telenursing or transmission of medical images; and in personal computing using webcams and easily-available software.

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