Video conferencing vs Audio conferencing

On March 18, 2014

conference‘Tele’ means distance and ‘conference’ means consultations or discussions. Through teleconferencing, two or more people that are situated at a distance are connected so that they can both hear each other. What this means that both parties are present at the same time in different locations and are able to communicate with each other. But you already knew that right?

It is a two-way voice communication among multiple locations in real time. This generally operates through a public telephone network. There are individual microphones for participants and external speakers for both users. There are also professional systems that can be used hands free. The number of people that you can connect to is dependent on your service provider’s capabilities that can range from 3-over 20.

There’s also an educational benefit for using audio conferencing: it allows distant education participants to interact with each other and it also cuts down on transportation costs. It can be used in almost any classroom setting regardless of class size. Audio conferencing can be beneficial when a guest speaker has been invited and is not able to physically be in the classroom to speak to the class. It is a great tool for people who are taking online courses. It allows students and teachers to interact with each other while being in different locations.

Some of the benefits of using audio conferencing for an online course is that it only requires the use of a phone:

  • It allows for a large amount of people to be on the same call together
  • Allows people who are not in the same place to interact
  • It allows for students and teacher to be able to interact

Audio conferencing can be as easy as using a telephone to conduct a one on one call or it can be as complex as using an audio conferencing bridging system. It all depends on the amount of people involved.

Conference Calls

This type of call requires each user to have a single phone or a phone that has speakerphone capabilities for multiple users sharing the same phone. One of the users will need to dial another user and continue dialing in users until all users are present in the call.

Bridging Systems

This allows for multiple users to dial into an audio conference by using a single port. These ports allow the host up to 400 different ports that people can dial into.

Some of the most common uses of teleconferencing are in:

  • Education
  • Training and development
  • Business/corporate communication
  • Government
  • Medical sector
  • There are many strengths of conducting an audio conference such as:
  • Accessible to geographically dispersed groups
  • A form of communication at national/regional/local level
  • Quality teaching using multiple teaching resources
  • Real time interaction
  • Use of various teaching methods enhances learning
  • Cost effective

With strengths come weaknesses of audio conferencing

A disadvantage of using audio conferencing is that it is via telephone only, meaning you cannot see the people you’re talking to (doh!), which means you cannot get as much information from the people you are talking to that you could otherwise in a video conference.

Audio conferencing can be of poor quality at times since it does rely on phone lines.

Noise can affect the conversation or even cut one of the parties completely out of a call.

When conducting an audio conferencing for a business transaction, these disadvantages can make or break a deal.

Video conferencing in its basic form is simply the transmission of video and audio relayed back and fourth between two or more people in separate locations. There are a lot more components involved when using video conferencing compared to audio conferencing. There needs to be cameras to capture and send video from each end. Video displays to show the live feed received from multiple endpoints.  There needs to be microphones to capture and send audio to and from each end. And finally, there needs to be speakers in the conference room to play the audio for each party.

There are two different types of video conferencing:

  • Point to Point Video Conferencing: this is a videoconference that only connects to two different locations. Skype is a perfect example of a point to point video conferencing software. Each side sees and hears each other at all times
  • Multi Point Video Conferencing: this is where there are more than two parties connect with each other using a multi point control unit or short for MCU. A perfect example of this is Blue Jeans, which specializes in multi point video conferencing. All parties that are included in the call can see and hear each other.

With the rapid growth of technology today, there are a ton of the benefits that come out of video conferencing:

  • It can improve your work quality
  • Increase productivity
  • Greatly reduce travel costs
  • Improves communication
  • Groups can meet frequently
  • Meetings can be conducted in less time due to all parties being in their own offices
  • More people can be involved in a meeting

There are also some disadvantages that come out of video conferencing which include:

The lack of quality of service which doesn’t guarantee a successful experience

While technology is always improving, having a successful video conference is highly dependent upon the users connectivity

Doing anything through the Internet can be risky and parties are susceptible to security issues

The rapid growth of technology has made it possible for the world to go from audio conferencing and evolve into video conferencing. And while these two are their own entities, without audio conferencing and how we learned from it, we might not have been able to think of making video conferencing systems.