Q. How can I improve customer contact and save both time and money?
A. The installation of videoconferencing equipment allows you to link your head office with customers and clients. This enables clients to be kept up to date on projects and improves the quality of customer communication and satisfaction. This decreases time to make a decision, improves productivity and decreases the need for travel.
Q. How can I improve communication and decision making between dispersed team members and offices?
A. Dispersed team members can share documents, spreadsheets and drawings. The desktop video can be used to show work in progress and get immediate feedback. The better communications will help shorten product development time and help create better products while saving travel time and cost.
Q. What is the benefit of videoconferencing for distance learning?
A. Videoconferencing will bring higher education to student populations located in rural areas and it will help retain students previously needing to take off a semester for family or personal health reasons. Desktop videoconferencing will also help with the replacement of faculty on leave by inviting guest teachers or lecturers from off-site locations. The increase in use of guest lecturers from around the country enhances the learning experience for many academic disciplines.
Q. Our firm wants to improve the quality of employee education by inviting remote "experts" to help conduct training. Will this work over videoconferencing equipment? Isn't the screen size too small?
A. A digital-to-analog converter will enable you to connect the desktop PC to a large screen video projector or larger TV monitor. This will bring to life the remote expert who could then easily lecture the students. Documents and other training materials could also easily be displayed on the large monitor.
Q. We are a large manufacturer. What can videoconferencing do for our firm?
A. Videoconferencing systems could be placed in regional offices to enable training of special manufacturing or repair procedures. Assemblers could be guided through critical assembly procedures while clarifying issues with on-line managers. Documents and drawings could be shared and discussed to improve comprehension. Engineers in remote locations could collaborate on designs and prototypes.
Q. I hear that there is legislation pending that is designed to reduce air pollution by reducing the number of commuters on the road. Can videoconferencing help with the proposed changes and assist with telecommuting from home? A. States are initiating legislation that would force companies with more than 100 employees to develop a plan for reducing the number of commuters on the road during rush hours. Given this directive, it would seem that videoconferencing would be of value for developing employee trip reduction plans. These telecommuters would then be free to work from their home over the videoconferencing system.
Q. We are an architectural design firm. How can we save money with videoconferencing?
A. Documents can be reviewed with regional offices in other parts of the country. PC-based information and drawings can be quickly reviewed and changes implemented much faster than faxing or overnight mail.
Q. I am an administrator at a hospital. How can I lower personnel costs while improving customer service?
A. By installing videoconferencing terminals at Immediate Care Clinics with overflow patient registration, it is possible to reduce patient waiting time. The hospital staff in the video window of the desktop terminal can register the patient over the video link. Insurance and patient information can be relayed to hospital staff interactively from the remote clinic.
Q. We are a law firm. How can we save money with videoconferencing?
A. A law firm will realize significant savings in travel time and improved client satisfaction by using videoconferencing or document conferencing products. These products are perfect for reviewing large amounts of data very quickly and changes are interactive. They also allow instant feedback which is much faster than overnight mail or faxing.
Q. We are a large newspaper with offices in multiple locations across the country. How can we reduce our travel expenses while responding faster to news stories?
A. Installing videoconferencing equipment makes for a much more personal connection to support groups. It makes it much easier to get the information across from the reporter in the field to the editor at the home office. Document sharing gives the support staff the ability to quickly edit on-line documents. The video provides immediate feedback enabling faster response to late breaking stories.
Q. What is videoconferencing?
A. Videoconferencing is the combination of dedicated audio, video and communications networking technology for real-time interaction, and is often used by groups to communicate with other groups of people. Desktop videoconferencing combines personal computing with audio, video and communications technologies to provide real-time interaction from a typical personal computer, and the interaction embodies communications between groups of people from singular points (workstations).
Q. What is data conferencing?
A. Data conferencing is the connection of two or more computer systems, through which information is shared. This information can be in the form of text, graphics, digitized sound or digitized video.
Q. What is Audio conferencing?
A. Audio conferencing is a discussion between two or more individuals through a sound transmitting device. This device could be a videoconferencing microphone linkup device, or it can be a rotary phone.
Q. What is application sharing?
A. Application sharing allows you to conference with someone who may not have the same application programs you have. One person launches the application and it runs simultaneously on both desktops. That way both people can view the application screen simultaneously. Both users can input information and control the application using the keyboard and the mouse. Files can be transferred easily and the results of your conference are available to both users immediately.
Q. What is whiteboarding?
A. Whiteboarding interacts with document conferencing. Document conferencing software programs allow people to work on a document in tandem without having to be in the same place at the same time. These software packages allow two or more people to view and make their own separate notes on the same screen; over a phone line; or on a local network; so people in remote locations can attend a presentation, conduct a meeting, collaborate or brainstorm on any project. Your documents can consist of text or graphics pasted from another program onto a whiteboard display. It's in the whiteboard area that your document can be marked up. You can bring data to a whiteboard in a variety of ways by transferring files and saving data files.
Q. What is a CODEC?
A. Videoconferencing standards, also known as CODECS (Compression and Decompression components), are systems which (hardware and software) developers attempt to conform their products to. They explain in detail improved formats of data compression and transmission, utilizing the latest developments in technology. By proposing, passing and utilizing these standards, VC system developers raise the quality of their products and permit compatibility between their products.
Q. How do I make a videoconference call over the Internet?
A. A large pipe such as an ISDN line or larger gateway and TCP/IP LAN based videoconferencing system will make it possible to videoconference over the Internet. As the Internet improves its technology, so will videoconferencing over the Internet.
Q. What is ISDN?
A. ISDN stands for Integrated Services Digital Network. It is a highspeed, greater bandwidth (ability to transmit data) alternative to phone lines for transferring data. ISDN is especially useful for DTVC systems, which require a great deal of bandwidth to transfer both video and audio between sites.
Q. How do desktop videoconferencing systems use the B and D channels of ISDN?
A. Voice, video and application data are transmitted and received by the videoconferencing systems using the B channels. The B channels are not split (application data on one, video on the other), but rather are essentially one large data path which the videoconferencing system uses to transmit and receive all three data types. The D channel is used solely for call setup and management. No end-to-end user data is transmitted over the D channel.
Q. What is the difference between FULL-CIF and QCIF?
A. Full CIF (Common Intermediate Format) displays video frames containing 352 pixels grouped in 288 non-interlaced luminance lines. CIF (Quarter CIF) employs half the CIF spatial resolution in both horizontal and vertical directions displaying 176 pixels grouped in 144 non-interlaced luminance lines. Full CIF format is used in videoconferencing when several people need to be viewed or details need to be magnified over a full screen. Conversely, QCIF is used in most desktop videoconferencing applications where head and shoulder pictures are sent from desk to desk.
Q. What is SPID?
A. SPID, or "Service Profile Identifier" is a number issued by your telephone company. The SPID number is used to identify your ISDN line to switch in the central office. When you're installing the system, the videoconferencing installation software prompts you for your SPID number. SPID numbers are provided by your ISDN provider (be sure to request your SPID number when you place your ISDN order). You'll need to configure the SPID into your terminal before it will connect to the central office switch. When a new subscriber is added, the telephone company allocates a SPID just as they would a directory number.
Q. What is an NT-1 line and how do I use it?
A. NT-1 stands for "Networking Terminal type 1." The NT-1 is a little plastic box with LEDS and is usually purchased separately. The NT-1 is a device which converts the two-wire line (or U interface) which comes from the telephone company, into a four-wire line (ST interface). The NT-1 is physically connected between the ISDN board of your videoconferencing system and your ISDN phone line. The NT-1 supports network maintenance functions, such as loop testing. Up to eight terminal devices may be addressed by an NT-1.
Q. What is ITU?
A. The ITU, or International TeleCommunication Union, is an international organization within which governments and private sectors coordinate global telecom networks and services. The ITU-T, the Telecommunication Standardization Sector of the ITU, creates CODECS for videoconferencing (ITU).
Q. What is H.320?
A. H.320 standard is a family of standards related to voice and video communications using conferencing equipment. It allows for different video conferencing systems, from different manufacturers to communicate using a common messaging format.
Q. What is T.120?
A. T.120 is the standard for multipoint data collaboration, established by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). This standard has been widely adopted by most providers of software, hardware and telecommunications around the world.