What is Video Conferencing and How Does it Work?

Eve-Carrie
Eve-Carrie

Updated · Oct 16, 2022

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Boy! Hasn’t video conferencing grown so much since 1927’s video phone by Bell Labs

But what is video conferencing, to begin with? 

Read on to find out.

What Is Video Conferencing?

Video conferencing is a technology that simulates a face-to-face meeting between two or more participants and locations. Additionally, it transmits text, audio, video over the internet via a platform or tool.

It happens in real-time, over a high-definition video and audio connection/signal. 

Sounds complicated?

To simplify, think of it as a telephone call; only you can see the other person this time. 

There’s more:

You may or not require a conferencing bridge and specialized equipment depending on the type of solution you chose (we’ll cover this in a bit).  

The best thing about conferencing on video is that participants don’t need to travel to a specific location.

You can use it for:

  • Job Interviews
  • One-on-one training
  • Product demos
  • Team meetings
  • Webinars

A few decades ago, only big corporations could afford to use this form of communication. Deploying the system was expensive, and those who couldn’t afford it, had to do with audio conferencing.

Today, there have been so many inventions that have made it easy to get your hands on. Some like VoIP are free! 

By the way, this form of data transfer goes by different names, such as videotelephony, videoconferencing, video-based meeting, and telepresence. We’ll use the terms interchangeably throughout this text.

Now:

Let’s take a deep dive into how it functions. 

How Does It Work?

We can best describe how a video conference operates using two steps:

  • Compression
  • Transfer

Following is a brief description of each one of them.

Compression

Attendees input their voices via a microphone and video through a camera. By this time, it’s an analog audiovisual (AV) and in the form of continuous amplitudes and waves.

A conferencing software converts the analog data to digital. After that, codecs assemble the information into UDP packets. “Packetizing” is a common word that refers to the process. 

The software also compresses the packets to make them move through broadband or Wi-Fi faster. 

Transfer

The system then transmits the input via a network. The codecs then decompress it, enabling the person on the other end to see it on a screen, and hear it via speakers. 

The bandwidth and compression ratio determine the quality of communication during video conferences. The higher the ratio is, the better the clarity. For instance, 100:1 is clearer than that of 5:1. 

To limit echoes, the programs use acoustic echo cancelation. The approach also ensures that there are no sound delays. 

Types of Video Conferencing

There are many types of conferencing:

Multi-Point Videoconferencing

Multi-point also goes by the name Group Videoconferencing. It involves the syncing of signals from more than two locations. That can be extremely difficult, but sophisticated resources make it possible. 

Here’s what I mean:

It relies on a Multi Point Control Unit (MCU), which acts as a bridge. To stream data in real-time, Multi-point also requires specific LAN network setups. Both are super expensive.

Integrated Videoconferencing

Integrated video conferencing occurs when codec and hardware are in a central location. It’s suitable for group meetings, where team members can huddle together in a room. 

External Video-based Meetings

This mode of communication is suitable for getting in touch with vendors and clients. 

Thanks to it, you can be present in situations that would otherwise be impossible to meet face-to-face. The video conferences engage external stakeholders, which helps build lasting relationships. 

Point-to-point Video Calls

This type of video-based meeting only covers two locations. It doesn’t require a bridge, hence more affordable. All you need is a network and web conferencing equipment on both sites. 

It’s one of the oldest setups in the industry and still a popular choice today. Skype is an excellent example.

Videoconferencing as a Service (VaaS)

A carrier usually has control over what happens in this type of conferencing. 

Once you subscribe, the service provider does the rest. That includes ensuring that there’s a good signal or whether the network is up and running. 

What Equipment Do You Need?

So, do you have everything you need to video call online?

Let’s double-check:

  • Microphone
  • Camera
  • Videoconferencing software
  • Strong internet connection
  • Speakers
  • Display (computer or TV screen)
  • Conference phone

All good?

What Are the Benefits of Video Conferencing?

Video communication is a must-have for any forward-thinking business looking to improve on communication. It has a lot of advantages compared to traveling for meetups, emailing, or calling. Here they are:

It’s More Engaging 

Telepresence is attention-grabbing and immersive since it's like you’re with the other person/people in the same room. Your team can also follow non-verbal cues, which can be hard to tell from written or phone conversations. 

Plus:

Unlike audio conferencing, its visual aspect makes it hard for the recipient/s to put you on speaker as they “aha” and “okay” you. It’s not uncommon for people to do that, as they concentrate on other tasks.

It’s Cost-Effective 

Cost reduction is of the biggest importance of video conferencing in business.  On average, organizations across the globe spend close to $800 per person each day on business travel. With a videophone, attendees don’t have to leave their office or home for a face-to-face conversation.

On the other hand, web conferencing software is much cheaper, with packages as low as $5 per month! In addition, the cost of equipment ranges anywhere from $10 to upwards of $20K. The good thing here is that hardware pricing is one-off, so you will get to save some money in the long run. 

Streamlines Collaboration 

Collaboration happens when two or more people join forces to work on a project. But it’s never easy to get people in different departments, especially in dispersed teams, on the same schedule. 

Enter video calling.

It makes it easier for people to collaborate with tools like screen sharing, chat function, file transfer, and live streaming. With it, you can also pre-record sessions that your team can watch later. The latter is handy for teams in different time zones who can’t attend a meeting simultaneously.

Improves Communication and Relationships 

There’s always a sense of disconnectedness in remote teams. 

But:

Videoconferencing saves the day regarding that aspect. That’s because it’s the closest thing to working together in person and helps maintain human connections. 

When people communicate more effectively, it boosts morale and engagement. The result is a team that trusts each other, so they’re likely to work in harmony toward organizational goals. 

Besides that, effective communication increases customer satisfaction. If it flows smoothly within the organization, there will be zero chance of clients getting conflicting information. 

Improves Productivity 

With a video communication system, you can hold discussions, ask questions, and get answers in real-time. In turn, decision-making becomes quicker.

So, you can instantly move on with your project instead of waiting for days on end for, say, an email response.

Therefore, team members can channel waiting time to complete their tasks. In other words, it improves efficiency leading to profitability. 

Simplifies Usability  

Replying to emails and messages to different people can get overwhelming if you’re a global business with thousands of employees. 

But a video display can simplify all that. You just need to schedule a conference with your team members and hold a single discussion instead of hundreds of separate ones. 

Wrap Up

Conferencing technology has become more practical with globalization for both small and large organizations. It certainly eliminates constant traveling, which is otherwise costly and time-consuming. 

Utilizing the technology can also help improve productivity, relationships, collaboration, and usability. It’s also more engaging than other business communication types such as audio conferencing, email, or text messaging.

FAQ.


What is video conferencing and examples?

Video chatting is an internet-based audio-visual meeting between two or more parties. It’s suitable for team meetings, interviews, webinars, product demos, or training.

How does video conferencing work?

Users capture audio using a microphone and video via camera. The data is in frequencies and amplitudes and includes brightness, color, sound, depth, and shades.  

After that, a codec compresses it to limit bandwidth requirements as it passes through a network. It also goes through decompression at the receiving end.  

But wait:

What is a video conferencing codec?

Codec is an acronym for compressor decompressor or coder-decoder and can either be hardware or software.

What are the types of video conferencing?

The following are kinds of videoconferencing:

  • Point-to-point
  • Multipoint
  • Integrated
  • Service-based
  • External

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Eve-Carrie

Eve-Carrie

Eve is a lover of everything technology. Figuring out how software works and creating content to shed more light on the value it offers users is her favorite past time. When not evaluating apps or programs, she's busy trying out new healthy recipes, doing yoga, meditating, or taking nature walks with her little one.

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