For video conferencing users, Internet Protocol (IP) offers a low-cost alternative to Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), but IP doesn’t always offer good quality or security, according to speakers at last month’s IP World Canada conference.

Corporate IT departments can control their

own internal networks, but once they start making video conference calls to people from outside the company over the public Internet, it’s more difficult to guarantee quality, said Rick Perkins, product manager of Sony of Canada Ltd.

He said companies are using virtual private networks for video calls but if you want to provide acceptable service between two points, the routers in the middle must have quality of service (QoS) functionality.

At a seminar titled Enhanced Productivity through Video Communications, Perkins outlined several key questions network managers need to ask before they roll out video conferencing.

“”What are users expecting? Are they expecting full video resolution? Are they expecting to be able to send Powerpoints with their presentations? What is your local-area infrastructure?””

IT staff also need to ask whether their firewalls allow external video users in while ensuring the network is still secure.

Security concerns are causing some video users to shun IP stick to ISDN, said Ronald Gruia, program leader of enterprise communications for Frost & Sullivan Canada.

Gruia, who spoke at two separate IPWorld Canada sessions, said in an interview five years ago, 90 per cent of video end points only worked on ISDN networks. Today, 23 per cent of video equipment revenues are for cameras and other end points that work on IP networks only. The rest of the end points support ISDN and IP.

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