BtoB Exchanges: Bringing Videoconferencing Closer to Mainstream

Published: 15 Jan 2010

By Subha Rama, Unified Communications & Collaboration Group

In the past, companies were investing in videoconferencing technology, but usage was largely restricted to intra-company communication. By addressing network inter-connect issues, BtoB exchange services are ushering in more pervasive use of videoconferencing.

Interoperability issues have dogged videoconferencing adoption and usage for more than 20 years now, since the first commercial videoconferencing systems were introduced in the early 90s. In the early years, it was a question of evolving industry standards, H.323 for ISDN, ITU’s H.261, and H.263 for low bit-rate communication and later H.323 for packet-based multimedia communications. Today, we have session initiation protocol (SIP) and a few more added to the medley. Interoperability between multiple standards, legacy standard-definition (SD) and the new high-definition (HD) equipment, and legacy ISDN networks and leading-edge IP-MPLS infrastructure, has consistently posed a challenge and stood in the way of mass adoption of videoconferencing technology.

Usage tended to be low in legacy environments as conferences were hard to initiate, ISDN connections were intermittent with latency issues and, most importantly, systems from different vendors were typically not interoperable. Smaller screens and blurred picture quality did not help matters at all. The issue becomes all the more apparent in telepresence environments. Telepresence, with its promise of immersive, life-like video experience, has found immediate acceptance among C-level executives and is beginning to see usage among select user groups within the enterprise. However, interoperability issues between different vendors and with legacy SD systems are yet to be resolved. As a result, we see islands of telepresence systems, possessing limited ability to communicate with each other.

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