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The Technology behind Web Conferencing, Defined
November 18, 2008 @ 11:54 AM | By Dan Uhlmeyer

July29virtualaudienceLast week we talked about the buying terms related to web conferencing.  This week, we'll take a look at some of the technology terms you may hear when meeting virtually.  If there are any terms I have missed, or that you'd like to discuss further, please let me know in the comments below!

Application Programming Interface, a set of Web conferencing APIs provide protocols and tools to use for integration between the Web conferencing platform and other systems.    APIs makes it easier to integrate as it provides all of the building blocks for doing so, like pairing “click to dial” phone connections with your Web conference (see “Audio Conference Controls” below).

Closed Captioning
Relay Conference Captioning is a unique service that provides live, real-time text streamed captions to hearing impaired participants through the Web conferencing service

Custom Content Services
Some providers offer additional services to make your content come alive through complex animation and video.  Other custom content services may include general or more advanced branding, setup of pre-meeting registrations, editing of recorded meetings or even help with creation of your presentation for high-profile events such as Webinars.

Multi-language Support
Some web conferencing services allow you to conduct meetings in up to 10  languages. The most common languages are English, Spanish, French, German, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.

Plug-ins or Add-ins
An additional install that allows you to control web conferencing functionality from a Third-Party application such as Outlook or an Instant Messaging platform. Typically this integration is made possible through the developer’s use of APIs.

Practice Sessions
I know it seems like a no-brainer but “buyer beware.”  Some service and pricing models allow you to run practice sessions “at no charge” prior to meeting time.

PSTN Audio
Public Switched Telephone Network, basically your typical phone connection.  Currently this is the most common method for connecting audio on your Web conference as it leverages conferencing technology using the traditional phone system.

SSL Encryption
Most services offer Secure Socket Layer encryption to protect your meeting from “hacking” while your images are being sent through the internet.  Many financial institutions, governments, legal firms or businesses handling sensitive information require this feature to be enabled for Web Conferences.

Stored Access IDs
Caching of previously used web meeting IDs gives quick access to start a meeting or access other user meeting rooms.  “Ok, in layman’s terms please?”  Basically like storing  “click to call” numbers on your mobile phone for those you call often.
typically stored with the participation reports you can view after your meeting

Two-way (full duplex) VoIP
Voice over Internet Protocol.  This differs from streaming or a traditional webcast as there is “back and forth” communication amongst participants which is all performed over the internet.  This eliminates the need for a phone line.

Next week, we'll look at some of the web conferencing features and their related terminology. Stay tuned!

Dan_2 Dan Uhlmeyer is a Sr. Product Manager and the "Web Conferencing" blogger.  He has over eight years of product experience in Web Conferencing and currently manages InterCall Web Meeting, InterCall’s proprietary unified communications tool.  When not punching on the keyboard, you can find Dan enjoying time with his wife and two children or running a marathon.

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Margarette Stevenson

I’ll be the first to admit, I'm not the most web savvy person. Technology is not my strong point. Our company began using web conferencing a few months ago and it has worked out pretty well for them. They use flat rate teleconference calling. Your article has shed a lot of light on the subject of web conferencing. Thanks!

Gregg M.

We started using web conferencing before it became mainstream. I’ve learned that using updated technology can help boost business. To take it one step further, we started using operator conference calling and it has worked out well for us so far.


That is a GREAT post on conferencing, which is really gaining speed in the market. I can recommend a great conferencing guide for newbees to use when figuring out how to get started. The “Quick Start Guide for Web Conferencing”, which I got on Amazon.com, got me up and running in about 25 minutes:


I read that the www.webconferencingcouncil.com had a non-technical relative of equipped with a a Dell E6400 with Windows XP, complete with built-in camera & microphone test this book to see if it was truly a quick start. This relative was able to start a multi-point meeting in 17 minutes, was able to share her desktop and present an online presentation (Microsoft PowerPoint) in under 25 minutes, and even started using the voting and whiteboarding features within 30 minutes - all of it witnessed but uncoached. I was a little bit faster but I am more technical than most.

web meeting

Web meeting technologies are not standardized, which has been a significant factor in the lack of interoperability, transparency, platform dependence, security issues, cost and market segmentation. In 2003, the IETF established a working group to establish a standard for web meeting, called "Centralized Conferencing.


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