Video is a great application, delivering a “like you are there” feeling to communications, focusing the mind on the task at hand, and making it possible to be in two very different places nearly at once. The benefits are well known, but for a refresher you can check out our last post on video conferencing ROI.
Bandwidth and Video
One of the biggest challenges for video conferencing today is the availability of quality bandwidth. Because video conferencing is a “real-time” application, good quality interaction requires good quality bandwidth. If there is not enough bandwidth, or the network is “jittery,” the interaction can be hampered by lost or scrambled video and audio that is out of sync.
Within a LAN environment, where 100Mb ethernet is giving way to 1Gb ethernet for wired connections and wireless speeds are approaching what used to be considered excellent wired speeds, video conferencing is typically easy, stable and high quality.
The WAN Bandwidth Challenge
However, when your video conference traffic leaves the building, you need WAN bandwidth. If you have a private fiber network to all destinations that you video conference with, you can skip this article. For the rest of us:
- WAN bandwidth is expensive so organizations tend to have less of it, creating a bottleneck getting in and out of the “digital front door”
- Public Internet is less reliable than managed networks, but managed networks are expensive, so public internet is used as much as possible
- Most networks (even managed ones) use a different route each time, so while “average” quality is good, the quality on any given call, e.g. the incredibly important one that you set up for your boss, can be poor.
How Video Conferencing Systems Use Bandwidth
How much bandwidth a video conferencing system requires to provide a high quality interaction, and how much a system can correct for the inconsistencies of WAN traffic is part of the “special sauce” that helps differentiate the good vendors from the bad and the ugly.
Some applications (typically consumer grade software platforms) grab all available bandwidth and hope for the best. This is fine for home use, but for organizations where many users share the network, this is not an acceptable strategy. Most “business grade” systems have some way for administrators to regulate an individual user, or a call’s, ability to grab bandwidth whether it is for voice, video or content sharing.
One Way to Reduce WAN Consumption
VeaMea offers an optional product for video conferencing implementations which, as far as we know, no one else replicates. We call it a WAN Saver. For calls where a number of people are on the same LAN, it reduces the number of video streams passing from the internal network to the WAN. A picture is worth a thousand words, so click here to see how this works in practice.
The net result is that you can have more people, on higher quality video calls with the same amount of network resources. What’s not to like?
Click this link to learn more about how your organization can implement secure, high quality, cost-effective video conferencing and collaboration. It’s better than being there !