Overcoming Network Limitations for Universal Video Conferencing

The promise of video conferencing offers benefits that are appealing to almost any company:  employees can collaborate across geographies and time zones without the need to travel, saving companies money and improving the work life balance.   As a result, employees are happier and more productive.  Although the adoption of video conferencing has steadily increased, one of the key constraints has been particularly difficult to overcome to make video conferencing a truly universal tool that can be used by any employee in a company.  Vidyo’s Adaptive Video Layering overcomes this critical constraint to deliver universal video conferencing.

Despite the promise, when it comes down to real life deployments, video conferencing faces a basic problem when trying to achieve universal availability.  Video conferencing requires a high quality broadband connection, and this just cannot be achieved cost effectively in all cases.  High quality can be defined as a connection that delivers high enough bandwidth to avoid congestion or one where the priority of the traffic can be controlled.  This requirement can significantly increase the cost of a video conferencing deployment by requiring a business class service with MPLS for quality of service (QoS).  Although pricing may vary from carrier to carrier, the average price for a nationwide MPLS service adds approximately $100* per month for a T1 access circuit.  For a 100 site deployment, that’s an additional $10,000 per month in added operational expense.

Over the past 10 years, companies have redesigned their data and communications infrastructure to leverage the cost advantages of IP networks.  The TDM networks of the past consisted of network silos where a separate network was built out for each individual application or service.  With IP convergence, a common IP transport is leveraged with multiple applications leveraging the common infrastructure.  Ironically, the suggested approach to video conferencing from some of the larger vendors is to go backwards in time and build out a separate video conferencing network. Figure 1 below compares the different approaches to video conferencing and how Vidyo’s technology allows companies to further leverage the benefits of a converged IP network rather than building out an expensive overlay network.

Figure 1

There is no argument that video conferencing increases the bandwidth requirements of a network.  The traditional view has been to build out a separate overlay network designed to support the performance requirements of video.  Vidyo has taken a very different approach and created a technology that can actually adapt to the network itself.  Adaptive Video Layering optimizes a video stream based on the network characteristics and endpoint capabilities.  The significance of this innovation is that it allows any endpoint to become a video conferencing device, and it can work over a broadband connection starting at about 500 kbps.

With this approach, companies do not need to deploy expensive overlay networks using expensive business class services such as nxT1s with MPLS.  Rather, they can leverage the lowest cost broadband Internet access available including consumer grade xDSL or cable service.  This drastically changes the network economics of deploying a universal video conferencing solution that can be used by any employee.  High speed broadband is becoming more and more widely available.  However, solutions from the traditional video conferencing vendors work best with business class bandwidth of approximately 3 to 5 Mpbs, which is just not available cost effectively everywhere.  Vidyo has taken on this challenge with its patented Adaptive Video Layering to make high definition video conferencing not just a promise for the future but a promise with concrete benefits that can be delivered to every employee today.

Source:

*Industry analysis from carrier pricing from ILECs and CLECs.

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Young-Sae Song

Young-Sae is Vidyo’s vice president of product and channel marketing. He has over 10 years of experience in the networking and telecommunications industry.  He joined Vidyo from Covad Communications, where he developed and introduced nationwide Ethernet and MPLS services.   Prior to Covad, Young-Sae worked at leading networking and software vendors such as Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, and Microsoft.  He also served executive clients in the financial services, telecommunications and manufacturing industries, focusing on strategy formulation, service operations and organization restructuring as a management consultant at Booz & Company.