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Video Conferencing Defined, Part 1
January 28, 2009 @ 07:46 AM | By Brian Trampler & Sara O'Rourke

2009-01-28-video Video Conferencing Types & Terminology

When you first begin to look into video conferencing you may hear a lot acronyms and words associated with this technology that are unfamiliar. As you research, don’t be scared. It is important to remember that it is not that much different from audio conferencing or using your phone to make a call to your friends and family.

In this first part of the video conferencing glossary, I will help clarify the terms associated with different types of video conferencing and cover some of the basics.

Audio conferencing
Communication between three or more sites that are linked by avoice-only telecommunications medium.

Codec (Coder-Decoder)
Video conferencing hardware that codes the outgoing video and audio signals and decodes the incoming signals. Prior to transmission, the codec converts analog signals to digital signals and compresses the digital signals. Incoming audio and video must be decompressed and converted from digital back to analog.

Desktop video conferencing
Video conferencing on a personal computer. Most appropriate for small groups or individuals. Many desktop video conferencing systems support document sharing.

Dialing in
Each site initiates the video call by dialing into the bridge.

Dialing out
InterCall Video Conferencing initiates the video and calls out to a site.

Widely-used video compression standard that allows a wide variety of video conferencing systems to communicate.

Nnew standard providing a foundation for audio, video and data communications across IP-based networks, including the Internet. By complying with H.323, multimedia products and applications from various vendors can interoperate, allowing users to communicate without concern for compatibility.

Standard for compressing video based on MPEG-4 that is expected to be widely used, especially for high-definition video.

Meeting that consists of a mix of conference users (i.e., video, audio or document).

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)
Essentially a digital network that provides seamless communication of voice, video and text between individual desktop video conferencing systems and group video conferencing systems. ISDN is expected to replace current telephone lines.

Video conference with more than two sites. The sites must connect via a video bridge or MCU (multipoint control unit).

Video conference between two sites.

Room-based video conferencing
Video conferencing using a sophisticated system. This is appropriate for large groups.

Video bridge
Computerized switching system that allows multipoint video conferencing.

Video conferencing
Way of communicating across long distances using video and audio (through a TV or monitor) that may also include graphics and data exchange.

Remember, with video conferencing the audio and visual signals are transmitted across the same line, either ISDN or IP. And just like needing a phone to make an audio call, you need a codec to make a video call. Next week, we’ll talk about some of the video conferencing features that are most popular. In the mean time, if there are any questions we can answer or terms we can help to define, talk to us in the comments below!

Brian_2 Brian Trampler is the Sr. Product Manager of Strategic Video Solutions & the "Video Conferencing" blogger. Throughout his 10 years in the conferencing industry, he has successfully launched numerous web, streaming, and video services.  Prior to making the jump to conferencing, Brian was involved in gymnastics both as a competitor and coach.  If you’re lucky, you might also find Brian performing musical theatre throughout the Denver metro area.

Sara_2 Sara O'Rourke is the Associate Product Manager for Strategic Video Solutions and will be a contributor to "Video News". She has been with Intercall for over 4 years and has specialized in the video product for the majority of those years, starting in sales. She is not only an accomplished professional of the video industry, but a fine singer as well.

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