Video Conferencing FAQ

In the last 10 years, UH has built a robust video conferencing network to deliver classes, administrative meetings and training to other UH System units, community colleges, universities, local businesses and organizations worldwide. The UH College of Optometry used video conferencing to deliver glaucoma certification courses across Texas, and the Graduate School of Social Work delivered professional development training throughout the state. UH has also produced or participated in numerous international video conferences.

Q: How does video conferencing work?
A: The basic element in a video conferencing network is a coder decoder, referred to as a CODEC, which digitizes and compresses video and audio signals from a location's camera and microphone and transmits the signals to another location through Internet Protocol/Internet lines. 

Most CODECs within UH's compressed video network operate on H.323 (IP/Internet), the internationally agreed upon standard. UH CODECs are able to connect with other locations' CODECs as long as they utilize this standard. Calls to parties that utilize another standard can be bridged using the university's MCU/Bridge.

Q: Is the conference two way?
A: Yes. One of the benefits of video conferencing is that participants in separate locations are able to see, hear and interact with each other as in a face-to-face meeting. Video conferencing saves time and money as it eliminates travel between locations.

Q: How does one organize a video conference?
A: First, early planning ensures success.
To schedule a single-point conference, also known as point-to-point, contact the UH person responsible for scheduling an equipped room to check its availability. Obtain the distant site's scheduling contact person and phone number so that UH staff may determine that site's ISDN phone number or public IP address. This will allow for a test of the connection before the conference begins and support throughout.
Planning a conference with multiple locations, referred to as multi-point, can be complicated. UH staff are available to assist you; contact Curtis Wilson for assistance.

Q: How many rooms on the UH campus are equipped for video conferencing?
A: There are eight locations on the UH Campus that are equipped for video conferences. Nearly all of these locations are connected to the UH System's compressed video network.

Q: What are the costs associated with hosting a video conference?
A
: Several departments or divisions charge a fee for setup and usage of the room. There are phone charges for all calls originating on the UH campus to a site not connected to UH's compressed video network or The Texas Vidnet. There are no charges for calls between UH System locations.

Q: What is multi-point conferencing?
A: Several locations can be "bridged" together to hold a meeting at many locations. Bridging a call requires special hardware called a multi-point control unit; many CODECs can bridge a call with three other CODECs. There are several multi-point formats:

  • Audio Switching, which automatically switches the site that the conferences sees based on which site is talking. Every site sees the site that is presenting in a full TV frame. 
  • Continuous Presence, which allows up to five sites to see all the other sites in the meeting. The TV picture is divided with each site taking a _ of the screen. Recent developments by manufacturers have allowed more sites to be a part of continuous presence conferences.
  • Continuous Presence Lecture, which is valuable for training. One site is designated as the originator and that site is what the other sites see. The originating site will see the remote sites in the divided screen as in the Continuous Presence mode.



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