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Web Conference

Web conference is a newly emerging medium through which individuals or groups can meet face-to-face in real time to interact. It is an interactive, live, full color, two-way audio and video communication. When this communication can take place between two points it is called point-to-point communication and when more than two points are involved it is known as multi-point communication. The data flows back and forth through the use of high-level bandwidth and the quality of sound and image is the highest importance. Today, web conferencing is readily available throughout the world. For Video web conference all you need is a computer with a browser, a web camera, microphone with speakers and an Internet connection. Depending on the type of communication lines available video web conferencing can be held using:

1.Compressed digital video over ISDN lines (Integrated Services Digital Network) and broad bands.

2. POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service)

3. IP (Internet Protocol) and /or LAN (Local Area Network)

There are different types of camera systems that can be used for video conferencing depending on the number of participants and the nature of conference – These include:

  • Single person camera system

  •  Voice switched system

  •  Split screen system

  •  Continuous presence system

  • Various applications are associated with web  conferencing. Commonest use of ‘Video Web Conferencing’ is for conducting inter-office or international meetings. Video Conference is perhaps the best alternative to face to face physical meeting since by adding tone, voice and visual cues to the mix, it helps us truly understand what the other person is saying. . Video web conference provides a tremendous boost to the business environment. Today’s businesses are becoming more and more globalized. Video conferencing helps in reducing the cost of travel, cost of accommodation and the time taken to travel. It could prove to be a very convenient way for organizing interviews, especially for candidates living in far off places and many organizations have started using video conferencing for interviewing their candidates.

    Telemedicine/Teledentistry is an application where the doctors/dentists of one place are able to view the patient’s ECG, x-rays CT and MRI scans from a hospital at the other part of the country or in another country. This technology is also used to beam back live pictures of road accidents, which enables the accident and emergency department to examine the injured person at the roadside. In field of education potential of video- and data-conferencing technologies are being used for training programs, which are constrained by the limited availability of teachers and also for distance education programs. Teachers can provide online demonstrations of applications in real time to a large number of students.

    Concept of web-conferencing was new to India but its adoption is rapidly growing. Indian corporate are realizing the importance and benefits from web-conferencing. Many corporate including Johnson & Johnson, Infosys Technologies, MindTree and Polaris are adopting web conferencing, which is turning out to be the cheapest mode of communication. According to Business Communications Review magazine, 11 million individuals representing 13,000 customer organizations either regularly or occasionally used web-conferencing service globally in 2001. The magazine predicted that by 2005 these numbers would jump to 79 million individuals and 94,000 organizations.

    Recently in December 2003, Sify Limited has launched its video conferencing service, branded 'iMeet', at its ‘iWay’ chain of cyber cafes across India. Commenting on the launch of this new service, Union Minister for Information Technology, Communications and Disinvestment Shri Arun Shourie, said, "An affordable video-conferencing service is a major initiative for a country like India. I believe it will revolutionize the way consumers and business people communicate with each other according to the occasion or need. This is something India can be proud of, as very few countries in the world have such a service available for the masses".  At Rs 5 a minute for both participants, this service is available at over 100 iWays across 24 cities and will be scaled up to 350 ‘iWays’ in 40 cities in the near future. As the concept finds acceptance, it will be made available across the chain of over 1200 iWays in the country.

    Full potential of 'web conference' would be realized when not just the corporate houses use it, but also the educational institutions, hospitals (telemedicine) and common people use it to their benefit.