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Videoconferencing in Canada has become a must have for companies to conduct day-to-day business.  Two types of videoconferencing systems are currently available on the market - multipoint videoconferencing and point-to-point videoconferencing.

The following article will review the technology, how videoconferencing works, the different videoconferencing systems functions, the differences between each, as well as the associated disadvantages and advantages.

Point to point videoconferencing

Point to point (or P2P) videoconferencing is the most commonly installed and least expensive type of videoconferencing system.  Only two participants in different locations can conference with each other, hence the name "point to point."

Since point to point broadcasts are limited to only two people, this form of videoconferencing is technologically less demanding and does not require a bridge to function, unlike multipoint conferencing.  With only two parties involved, the quality of the broadcast is usually superior and there is less chance of lag.  Each party however must use the same type of connection protocol in a point to point system.  If one user is using an Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) protocol but another person is using an Internet Protocol (IP) then it is impossible to use point to point videoconferencing to connect these two users.

As P2P or point to point videoconferencing needs only basic audio and is relatively simple, they are often utilised in peer to peer situations as a way of keeping in touch with friends or relatives and not usually in a business environment.

In an ISDN point to point videoconference the cost is charged to the user that makes the call to the other party, meaning that it does not cost the receiving user to conduct a videoconference.

Multipoint videoconferencing

Multipoint videoconferencing is similar to point to point videoconferencing with the exception that more than two participants in different locations can be involved in a multipoint system.  This means that multiple people can be displayed on screen instead of just one.

To initiate a multipoint videoconference the multipoint control unit either makes or receives calls from participants who dial the network ID of the multipoint control unit.  Due to its cost and complex nature, multipoint videoconferencing systems are most commonly used in large corporations to conduct large business meetings with multiple parties.

Multipoint Control Units

The multipoint control unit (or MCU) is in all multipoint videoconferencing systems and is essential for multipoint videoconferencing to function. The MCU allows three or more separate locations to conduct a real time videoconference.  MCUs consist of a sole piece of software or a combination of hardware and software and come in variations specifically dedicated to IP or ISDN videoconferencing. A multipoint control unit is located at the end of a Local Area Network (LAN) and is composed of a multipoint processors (MPs) and a multipoint controller (MC).  The MCU acts as a bridge to unite three or more sources to partake in a multipoint videoconference.  The more expensive multipoint control units are capable of handling more connections at a faster data transfer rate and allow more than one participant to be displayed on the video screen at one time.

Multipoint videoconferencing ID numbers

Individuals must be aware of the specific ID code assigned to a particular conference in order to joing a videoconference.  The creator can simply invite other users to join via an access ID number and  it is useful if participants are late and want to easily join the conference without interrupting or requesting a VTC invite from the host.  The ID for each conference is formed when the conference is created.  It is usually standard process for the creator or initiator of the conference to then e-mail the identification code to all participants.

We hope you enjoyed this article by Projector Source Canada.  For more information or to purchase a display and projector for your business or home, visit us online at

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