As different endpoints come into play and different types of networks come into play, the mixing of the different codecs and the robustness of the underlying media server become even more important. As WebRTC begins to take hold, adding yet another type of codec and signaling into the conference, the mixing gets even more complicated. Sometimes, this mixing results in weird-sounding conferences, with such technical difficulties as echoing, differing loudness of participants, or some participants’ lines being dropped.
But there are other changes as well. For one, Web-based conferencing is growing. And while Web-based conferencing can occur in a traditional format, it can also use a dial-out feature to reach out and call participants into the conference. In this way, a VoIP call can be initiated, and this can save quite a bit of money as opposed to 800 numbers. This can be extremely cost-effective when participants are in varying countries.
This brings up another important point. As more participants are calling into the conference with mobile phones, and these mobile phones have unlimited monthly plans for flat rates, why double bill yourself by calling into an 800 number if you are already paying for the mobile phone call? Good question, right? A Web-based conference that uses VoIP and doesn’t use an 800 number in a traditional sense would likely be much more cost-effective.
Let’s look at this VoIP case in more detail. With more VoIP trunks and more VoIP endpoints, even mobile VoIP endpoints, there is the potential of strain on the bandwidth of the VoIP trunk. We’ve seen cases of customers using our voice IP bandwidth optimization solutions in call centers. At first we didn’t quite understand this, but when you look at this in context of VoIP conference calling, it makes total sense.
At this point, you might be asking about video conferencing. Market research shows the video conferencing market declining. But underneath that is the fact that there are more and more inexpensive solutions entering the enterprise (think Skype videoconferencing, or the unified communications hub conferencing) that use the video camera on your laptop or computer screen. So, while the market in terms of revenue might be declining, video usage is clearly growing. Video as a part of a larger collaboration story is key.
Video could also be key to killing off the boring, ineffective conference call. If you are in a conference call at work and there are 20 participants in the call with 12 of them in a room at headquarters, why is it OK if the eight remote participants read their email, send instant messages and don’t listen? It’s not OK. We need to get them on the screen to get them truly engaged and transform what has been a painful necessity of a dispersed workforce into a collaborative opportunity.