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If you've found our site, then you've probably heard a lot about video teleconferencing (or VTC) over the last few years. You've probably heard that teleconferencing can save you valuable time and money. You've been told that it can eliminate cost of travel expenses. And you've probably even heard VTC can even make your company 'greener' by reducing your 'carbon footprint.' But, what IS VTC? How does it work? How much does it cost? Is it a practical solution for your business communication needs? Is it the same as telepresence? We've got some answers below.

What is Video Conferencing?

To start, we'll address the most common form of video telecommunication - video conferencing.

Video conferencing is defined as "conducting a meeting (or conference) between two or more people (or groups of people) at different sites using telecommunications or computer networks to transmit audio, video, and/or data (like shared documents, computer information or whiteboard functionality."

You're most likely already familiar with the basics - two people (or groups of people) meeting in two locations. But many who are new to the technology don't realize that a good VTC system can also help the participants in different locations share data like documents, computer information, or whiteboard functionality. And unlike lower bandwidth online communcations, a good VTC system will also allow for some large screen data and video display. Some systems will even let you record and save your entire meeting communication. We'll talk about this more a little later. For now, let's cover more of the basics.

Types of Video Conferences

point to point video conference

When researching for a purchase of VTC equipment, it's smart to have an idea of how you will be using your system. Will you be hosting meetings for multiple offices? Or will you focus on one-to-one location meetings? Here's a little lingo worth knowing.

  • Point-to-Point Video Conference: Two sites are connected.
  • Multipoint Video Conference: Three or more sites are connected.

Some video conferencing equipment is meant to serve only a point-to-point meeting variety. Typically (but not always) these systems are easier to set up, and less expensive, but has somewhat more limited functionality. Systems that can perform multipoint conferences generally have a wider range of features and benefits. Even though your system may not be able to do a multipoint call, bridges or Multipoint Control Units (MCU) can be used to connect multiple sites together in a call.

Types of Video VTC Systems

stand alone video conference system

A video conferencing system can be made up of a few different types of equipment. Each type of system does essentially the same thing, but with varying additional functions. Video conferencing can work over a telephone like device, computer, or as a stand-alone unit usually placed in a conference room.

  • Stand Alone unit or Room System
  • Telephone-Like Device usually a small system used by a single user
  • Computer Based or PC based application software

A VTC system can serve as a communications tool for one-on-one conferences or in large meeting rooms. The idea is to allow people to meet and share information without the need to travel between sites. Video conferencing can also be a function in a more sophisticated meeting room where audio visual technology and telecommunications technologies are married together to allow people to see one another, hear one another and share data on an as needed basis.

Did You Know?

record your video conference using a server

With some VTC equipment or services your meetings can be recorded and saved for later viewing or streamed (sent) to multiple locations at the same time for viewing. Call and speak to a VTC Pro to learn more!

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