video conferencing comes in many forms, from the basic – though still effective – to the highly sophisticated and expensive. Telepresence video conferencing is the most high-end of the options on offer. The idea here is that the other person or people in on the call should feel like they are actually in the room with you. That means they use the highest quality sound and vision communication, relying on high bandwidth connections for the significant amount of data that needs to be transmitted reliably for such good resolution and fidelity reproduction at the other end. That involves specialist equipment and, as such, has an associated price tag. For that reason, it is most often employed by big businesses that can both afford the costs and require the best audio visual conferencing that technology can provide. At the other end of the scale there is the simplest camera and microphone set-up, which is cheap enough to be built into many new computers – even netbooks, which typically cost only £200-£300. Powered by Skype or other similar software, these are used by millions of people to make cheap or free video calls across the world with just a broadband connection.
There are numerous advantages to all kinds of video conferencing. Cost is one, and is the reason that so many people use Skype. Why pay for an expensive international call when you can have one for free online? Throw in the video images as well and you have all the reasons you need. For businesses, this cost factor is multiplied when you add up the expense of getting people together for a meeting – especially if they are coming from different countries. This also takes time, and often you will be spending far longer travelling than in the meeting itself – an inefficient use of time. There are also environmental advantages, since flying is carbon-intensive. That makes a difference in an age where carbon footprint is measured and incorporated into a company’s results and public image.
Video conferencing will usually pay for itself in a fairly short time. Naturally, there are limits even to the best technology and there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting. But the benefits are such that every company with any kind of geographic spread – even across a few miles – should consider some form of audio visual conferencing. Whether that’s at the simpler end of the spectrum or one of the cutting-edge telepresence video conferencing set-ups will depend on the needs of your firm.
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