Friday, April 18, 2008

A Cheap Solution For Small Business Video Conferencing

For a small business trying to decide on a network solution which will be required to support video conferencing .... the journey can be aggravating.

Basically ..... Give me an open check and I will spend every dime on bandwidth pipes. Give me a fixed budget and I will squeeze every dime of bandwidth with compression techniques and accept the quality trade off.

Therein lies the dilemma ..... bandwidth vs quality.

So this is really not a question of bandwidth, but QoS (Quality of Service).

If you're willing to accept some risk in QoS to keep your budget under control.....there are options open to you.

With the bandwidth, you would scale to the number of users using the video/multimedia streaming network. About 384kbps per active connection per direction is the scaling for basic video conferencing(320x240). For 640x480 double it, and for 1080i HD 3-7Mbps for each feed.

LAN - Local Area Network, the one you buy and build
WAN - The one you lease and pay for, DSL etc
DSL - Digital Subscriber Line, 3-7Mbps
VPN - Virtual Private Networking, key technology for your solution

For your LAN network topology you want Ethernet at each video conferencing location. This is standard for most all LANs. Your WAN or Wide Area Network connection is the one that needs speculation. Just 10 years ago your choice would have been either a few T-1's at 1.5Mbps each, T-3 at 45Mbps, or Fibre for near limitless bandwidth depending on the above calculated bandwidth need.

Today's internet backbone is much more developed and can handle VPN over cable/DSL very well. VPN is creating a virtual software driven dedicated connection over a broadband connection like DSL.

Many (Linksys) network routers come with VPN capabilities. This should be the first solution attempt because it is exponentially cheaper than any other way. All you would require is a VPN router (Linksys $100) and 3-7Mbps DSL/Cable at each video feed location. Don't forget to get static IP's for each DSL location so you can make your VPN a permanent structure of the internet.

That's the basics. If you need help finding a DSL or cable provider in your
area that won't steal your wallet .... use this free online tool: Cheap DSL & Cable Internet

For help finding best fit equipment for your set-up ..... and maybe an
installer in your local area ..... use this handy search tool: Telecom & Video Conferencing Equipment


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