Leveraging the Cloud to Capitalize on Mobile Video Conferencing

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By Al Balasco

Businesses are scrutinizing the cost of travel for meetings and embracing conferencing instead. As a result, video conferencing is emerging as a valuable collaboration tool in conducting global group communications. At the same time, mobile data usage is exploding and a white paper by Cisco forecasts that 66 percent of the world’s traffic will be video by the end of 2015.

 

Figure 1. Mobile video will generate 66 percent of mobile data traffic by 2015.

Operators can embrace both of these trends by offering video conferencing services to increase revenues with a solution that allows them to extend video conferencing to mobile devices.

Video Conferencing Challenges

Many of today’s video conference solutions are found either within an enterprise Virtual Private Network (VPN) using premium-priced HD or telepresence equipment, or being used between participants with identical, often proprietary, video application software (i.e., FaceTime or Skype).

Video services look best with lots of bandwidth. However, this limits the user base to smartphones and desktop devices with broadband IP connections. In addition, more bandwidth costs more money for service providers and this price increase also deters users from accepting the premium price point for video when compared to audio conferencing services. Moreover, because several video conferencing solutions are still based on proprietary technologies and platforms, this limits the ability to offer visual collaboration services across ubiquitous endpoints (i.e., boardrooms, meeting rooms, desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and 3G feature phones). Lastly, a video conferencing solution based on a peer-to-peer architecture can’t scale to hundreds of participants, hence, centralized video mixing using Multimedia Conferencing Units (MCUs) is typically required in order to scale a video conferencing service. While MCU equipment has evolved to provide a feature-rich video conferencing experience for broadband users, the high price-per-port for this equipment limits the financial viability of using MCU equipment to host and terminate lower-speed, lower-capability mobile video client endpoints.

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