back to article Is videoconferencing reborn?

On March 10th at 15:00, The Register's Tim Phillips will be debating the value of videoconferencing with a few people who are better qualified than him to answer your questions. It's a live event so we'd hope you'll have some questions. Cisco's Nick Sheppard and Dale Vile from Freeform Dynamics are there to discuss the nitty …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Lighting, camera, bandwith

    I did high-end VC work 12 or so years ago and the main observations then still follow. You need a good camera and something thats recording 4x the resolution your transmitting idealy. Large lens so you can work on light levels that don't instantly sun-tan the users and a good microphone that picks up there voices more than there paper shufferling. H320 over 128kbps ISDN was acceptable for most and for 1v1 levels of VC and with a bridge even bringing them into a multipoint VC.

    But today we are starting to get the consumer tech that can do all this, heck we have for a while had it but it gets down to the issue of bandwith and more so quality. A H320 point to point VC is garanteed that 128 ISDN bandwith (unless using North american switched 56 bit stolen....) but over the internet or mobile phone network we start getting small interuptions. This is were VC is special, one hit on the line, one lost bit and you see the effect. One lost packet or bit on a network connection with TCP/IP and you can retransmit and you wouldn't even notice, A dropped bit on a audio stream and you wont notice it most of the time but with video you notice the slightest bit. The number of leased lines that had QMUX's that would casue issues yet the networking group didn't notice nor saw any effect was amazing back then - even in the digital age.

    So we have portable devices with now respectable camera's begging to be able to offer VC to users abound, well the problem will be one of two things - applications - nope there there, hardware - thats all there but the two real gotcha's will be quality bandwith and at a cost that wont see you remortgaging.

    Three when they launched were all about VC but with costs and the lessthan good camera's it was a issue and isn't that killer feature they wanted it to be. Sure video compression has moved on alot and mobile networks have improved along with internet connectivity But will it be what people want in a society that seems to abstract direct human interactions more and more via `social media` (sic). For longdistance contact, yes it will have a use to speak to the brother in Australia and the like but that is already technology used today. It's not though at the assured bandwith from point A on the internet to point B that business's want. They want to do business and not wait for pixilated Harry to come back into frame. When IPV6 is inplace then you will have the ability to have a more assured level of business garanteed but it will still be open akin to shouting across the street and calling that a conversation you will be at the mercy of the street.

    Does it have value, yes but only if it had value to you 10 years ago and beyond that your better of with a blackberry and exchanging powerpoint slides that way. I certainly don't want to see the birth of youtubelivecamerafeedsaround the world trend, its abd enough already without end-users becomming broadcast camera's roaming the wilds. Though when 999 calls will accept a live videocall and alow you to point out the crime taking place, until then I dont see videoconferencing being any more or less than what it is already. That said I don't think you can even send a mms to 999 with a picture of a crime, still one day but that would actualy be useful, so no time soon given taken upto now to be able to SMS a crime - how semi unhelpful unless your in a bank raid and want to SMS HLP US BNK ROBY.

    One final thought and one born out with apple and the iPad a technology that others had already been doing. Does videoconference have to change much to become consumer abused or is it the consumers attitude that needs to change and does that realy need apple to approve and tell them it is.

    Watch this space - it might blink.

  2. Geoff Thompson


    VC was available to the few who could afford the kit and ISDN6 Skype is used by many organisations, it is almost free and it works, up to a point. I'm interested to see where VC goes - fuel and green issues will play their part.

  3. UBfusion

    Please define 'videoconferencing'

    What precisely do you mean by "videoconferencing"? A conference in a real or virtual venue with physically present or remote speakers and physically present or remote attendees who watch a multicast and can ask questions? Or just a normal conference that is videotaped and then available for public viewing, like e.g. TED conferences?

  4. JimC Silver badge

    I remember...

    A good few years ago when BT, trying to promote the technology, set up a video confencing link (well strictly I guess video phone) for our account relationship... Within about two weeks the camera was permananently pointed at the wall our end and noone bothered to look at the screen. It seems to me that most ordinary folk don't much like being in front of a video camera. Maybe that will change with future generations but...

  5. E 2

    Heeheehee subversive!

    A webcast about videoconferencing!

    1. Mike Shepherd

      More like suboptimal

      "Videoconferencing" more than three people is inefficient and unpleasant, because the participants are distracted constantly by figuring out who is speaking and when they can get a word in without talking over everyone else.

      Maybe they help introduce people to each other, but you can do that with one-to-one video (or just a photo). The real work is done in writing and in one-to-one conversations.

      Webcasts (like videoconferencing) are largely a gimmick. Why not just collect a few questions and answer them in a short written article? That way, both questions and answers are likely to be better considered, more succintly expressed and quicker to take in (skipping those in which we have little interest). Don't expect any serious "interaction" because the experience is "real-time".

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Really? Cisco??

    WTF do Cisco know about video conferencing. Really.

    Even if you are kind, and accept that they have merged in Tandberg effectively (they haven't) this is still an incredibly narrow "webcast". Where are Polycom, LifeSize and Sony? I think that you will find that LifeSize and Polycom know a lot more about how to use video conferencing in the real world and real businesses than Cisco with their massively overpriced and proprietary Telepresence systems.

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