Re: CU,VOCALTEC vs. NM,H.323

Jason Williams (streak@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu)
Fri, 10 Oct 1997 14:35:42 -0500 (CDT)


On Fri, 10 Oct 1997, Rolf Hemmerling wrote:
> So M$Netmeeting and I$ H323 clients are really garbage by
> construction...=20

Garbage by construction? For simply not providing a multipoint
conferencing solution? I don't think so. Microsoft has the advantage at
this point in that their software is free. I$? I assume that's Intel?
Keep in mind that a lot of people who get into videoconferencing do it to
keep in touch with relatives. A husband who contacts his wife thru video
conferencing or a parent connecting with their kid has no need for
multipoint conferencing. There's no requirement in their situations that
demand that videoconferencing meet the same expectations that a group in
real life might have. In that sense, point to point conferencing is all
they need just like a phone call is all they'd normally use to keep in
touch.

> Trash to trash, M$ and I$ won=B4t get ruined by their wrong marketing
> decisions.. but so there is space left for truely wanted communication
> models:

True...Microsoft and Intel won't go down for bad marketing on their
videoconferencing products, but that's simply because they have a large
majority of OTHER markets to keep the afloat.

White Pine has other software out there as well, but from what I can
determine, their X servers serve a limited market. I think I read
somewhere in White Pine's press releases (back when they lost $700,000 or
so) that they are concentrating on the video conferencing market with
CU-SeeMe and MeetingPoint. If White Pine didn't have CU-SeeMe, I doubt
they'd be as successful as they are today (or were anyway..after they
restructured everything).

> Meeting people in the Internet means viewing several people at
> the same time, and talk to them both individually and as a common
> group.. like in *real* life in a *real* room !!!

That's the main reason I've stuck with CU-SeeMe for the past 3 years.
Others have come along (Freevue on the PC), but haven't stuck. This is
changing with iVisit coming out. But even iVisit has its share of
problems. Videoconferencing without the use of a reflector is nice idea,
but the bandwidth constrains are realized much faster.

I've read in comp.dcom.videoconf awhile back that Microsoft is planning on
coming out with a multipoint version of NetMeeting. That will be a step
in the right direction.

> So H.323 is not the final solution for Internet communcation !!! Are
> there any newer standards defined which meet group communication
> (although they are not yet implemented) ?

From=20what little I've picked up in comp.dcom.videoconf, the H.323 standar=
d
(or one of them anyway) does allow for multipoint conferencing through the
use of multipoint conferencing bridges. This is where White Pine's
MeetingPoint conferencing server comes in. It does allow for multipoint
conferencing by using standards. I don't see how NetMeeting can support
multipoint conferencing and stay within the standards without implementing
something like what White Pine is doing with MeetingPoint.

It all seems to be about standards these days... striving for standards
means cross platform videoconferencing for everyone. Needless to say,
without the standards multipoint conferencing is already a reality with
CU-SeeMe, XtX, Freevue, iVisit, QuickTime Conferencing, NV, Vic, etc. But
each of those packages serve a particular platform.

The standards are still quite new...It takes awhile for the software to
catch up to it. With the Internet Protocol in it's current state,
videoconferencing is on the losing end of things. I still need to read up
more about RSVP and bandwidth reservation protocols, but a lot of what
CU-SeeMe does with multicasting can't even take place on the internet of
today. The internet wasn't designed around high bandwidth, high priority
applications like video conferencing...Internet 2 though is designed to
handle all of it. (only 10 more years till IP version 6)

> BTW: Our german telecommunication company TELEKOM invested in 20%
> participation in VOCALTEC. Vocaltec 5.0 and CU-SEEME have a conference
> mode.

Internet Phone 5.0, as far as I know, isn't advertising it's
videoconferencing features. It has always succeeded as a voice
conferencing application. I suppose this could change, but I wasn't
impressed with the way it attempted to handle several calls at once (I've
only tried version 4.5 with video though). Internet Phone is into the
telephony market..making long distance Internet -> Telephone calls. I
believe they have proprietary codecs as well, so there aren't any
standards involved. (G.723 audio, H.263 video, T.120 whiteboarding, etc.)=
=20

> The TELEKOM is advertising ISDN with the argument, that ISDN allows
> voice conferencing of 3 users by the normal telephone system. So they
> won=B4t switch to NM and H323 clients, never, I hope at least !

I've held voice conferences with up to 10-15 people on CU-SeeMe and we all
took turns talking, laughing, etc. As always though, more bandwidth
helps. H.323 clients use the G.723 audio codec for audio at 6.4kbps. (At
least CU-SeeMe and NetMeeting do anyway) I've had very little experience
with the codec, but what I've heard with it blew me away. It was clear as
a bell and only used 6.4kbps. I'm not sure of the details, but supposedly
CU 3.1 connected to a MeetingPoint reflector using this codec is much more
efficient for bandwidth (Something about using RTP which I don't know
much about). Commercial quality video/audio conferencing has a long ways
to go to be a viable solution for modem users (Modems just can't handle
the bandwidth required for 640x480 24-bit color 30fps video from
multiple users), but CU-SeeMe and NetMeeting go a long ways towards that
goal. It's quite neat to know that CU-SeeMe and Cornell started the
bandwagon on all of this in 1992.

Enough babbling for one post...Now if White Pine could go back an Enhance
2.1.1/2.1.2 to comply with the H.323 standards and scrap 3.X's horribly
designed interface, life would be great. I guess I can't have it all :)

--
streak@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu    * Jason Williams -- Austin, Tx.  |     |
streak@mail.utexas.edu       * University of Texas at Austin  | ___ |
streak@cs.utexas.edu         * BS Computer Science             \_|_/
*************** http://ccwf.cc.utexas.edu/~streak/ **************|