Getting the best from video-conferencing

Video-conferencing can be a cost-effective way to carry out business with your colleagues, customers and suppliers, and with competitive prices available, it is no longer the preserve of large companies.


Video-conferencing can be a cost-effective way to carry out business with your colleagues, customers and suppliers, and with competitive prices available, it is no longer the preserve of large companies.

Video-conferencing can be a cost-effective way to carry out business with your colleagues, customers and suppliers, and with competitive prices available, it is no longer the preserve of large companies.

But when it comes to investing in technology, ensure you work out exactly what you want to achieve and then find the appropriate technology for it.

“There are lots of different types of conferencing available, such as video, audio and web. When it comes to video, the costs vary considerably depending on the type of connection you are using, for example, broadband with ADSL, and whether you require a postage stamp-sized picture or something bigger,” explains Tim Duffy, founder of conferencing provider MeetingZone.

There are ways of keeping your costs down. Duffy suggests you could use a web cam and software (that would set you back about £300) and run the conference using ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, which runs over an ordinary telephone line) but the quality would be variable. With ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network, where a digital circuit-switched service is used for data, voice, video and images using standard telephone lines) you get better quality.

“You get what you pay for. If you want to invest in a top of the range product using ISDN, your costs are more likely to be between £3,000 to £5,000 per terminal and you will also have to factor in the costs of ISDN and the connection costs,” advises Duffy.

When it comes to weighing up costs, consider what you will be using the video-conferencing technology for, and how regularly you are likely to be using it. If you will not be using it very often, then Duffy suggests that your money may well be better invested in an audio-conferencing system and a web package, so that you can show slide material. Web and audio can be a better solution than video when it comes to conferencing, especially if you know the other people well.

“Using this system, the cost of a one-hour call for say, four to five people, would be around £25 a call,” estimates Duffy.

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(1/4/04)

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