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What is video conferencing?

Videoconferencing is a form of communication that allows real-time interaction between people at two or more physical locations - that is, it allows for two-way video and two-way audio interaction through the transfer of video and audio packets via telecommunications. Some types of videoconferencing equipment allows users the ability to send and/or share data during the videoconference.

How is videoconferencing different from teleconferencing?

Videoconferencing should not be confused with satellite teleconferencing as the two involve different transmission media and different modes of interaction. The most important distinction to remember between the two is that videoconferencing allows for real-time interaction among participants while teleconferencing allows for limited interaction. For more detailed information about teleconferencing, please visit the satellite teleconferencing page.

How does videoconferencing work?

Videoconferencing equipment allows audio and video (and perhaps data) packets to be exchanged through telecommunications lines between two or more sites. Videoconferencing can occur over ISDN lines or IP-based lines. ISDN-based videoconferencing conforms to the H.320 standard and IP-based videoconferencing conforms to the H.323 standard. If T1 lines are used for the videoconferencing network, they have the disadvantage of being dedicated to and from fixed points, whereas ISDN lines can dial in to other networks. While it is true that an IP-based network could videoconference over the public Internet, there is no guaranteed quality of service on the public Internet so videoconference quality may be inconsistent. One main benefit of IP-based videoconferencing are fixed monthly costs, as opposed to per minute long distance fees incurred by the use of ISDN lines.

Theoretically, any two videoconferencing systems with the same standard (regardless of brand/manufacturer) should be able to conduct a basic videoconference. If videoconferencing systems with opposing standards would like to videoconference with each other, another piece of equipment called a gateway must be used. In order for a videoconference to occur between more than two sites at one time, a piece of equipment called a Multipoint Control Unit (also known as a bridge or an MCU) must be used.

What is a point-to-point videoconference? What is a multipoint videoconference?What is a VMR (Virtual Meeting Room)?

A videoconference between two sites is called a point-to-point videoconference. A videoconference between more than two sites is called a multipoint videoconference.

A multipoint videoconference is a videoconference involving more than two sites. This page contains more information about multipoint videoconferences and may be of special interest to presenters of multipoint workshops or moderators of multipoint meetings.

A virtual meeting room is a unique identifier that allows a meeting organizer to invited attendees from disparate geographical locations to collaborate in real time over the Internet. A virtual meeting room is also known as a virtual meeting space.

HSC Videoconferencing Quick Links