What is video conferencing?

Video conferencing is two-way interactive communication delivered using telephone or Internet technologies that allows people at different location to come together for a meeting. The video conference can be as simple as a conversation between two people in private offices (point-to-point) or involve several sites (multi-point) with more than one person in large rooms at different sites.

What are the benefits of video conferencing?

Video conferencing saves travel time and money. Participants can see and hear all other participants and communicate both verbally and visually, creating a face-to-face experience. PowerPoint and other on screen graphic, as well as other cameras are also available presentation options. People downtime is reduced and productivity gains are achieved by removing the logistics of flight preparations, airport delays, hotel stays, and all the other inconveniences of business travel. Video conferences can also be recorded and made available in a variety of ways, e.g., DVDs, streaming video.

When should video conference be used?

People use video conferencing when: a live conversation is needed; visual information is an important component of the conversation; the parties of the conversation can't physically come to the same location; the expense or time of travel is a consideration.

Can I video conference from my home? Another office? A hotel?

Technically, the answer is yes. A USB camera, a microphone, and video conferencing software can turn your computer into a video conferencing system. However you need to consider available bandwidth and any firewalls that may be in place.

What bandwidth is needed for a quality video conference?

The quality of a video conference primarily depends on the characteristics of the network connection between the conferencing sites. Video conferences can require anywhere from 128 Kbps for a low-quality desktop endpoint, up to 20 Mbps for an immersive three-screen telepresence suite. Video conferencing bandwidth requirements are driven by the resolution and the ability of the session to handle image motion.