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Don’t let poor bandwidth spoil your meeting room experience

Getting the network right for corporate conferencing – writes Heather McClean

Before you implement a conferencing system in a corporate environment, you must first consider the state of the underlying network. Whether you go for a wired or wireless AV solution, corporate networks have to be able to stand up to the rigors of regular usage and perform perfectly.

Explaining why it is vital to get the underlying network, whether wired or wireless, right when talking about AV solutions for the corporate conferencing market, Chris Mendoza, senior director of EMEA marketing at Ruckus Wireless, told AVTE: “All components must be up to date, otherwise it will slow down the entire network. Without a strong network, the control system will struggle, intercom functions will be compromised, and connectivity will be weak resulting in ‘spotty’ internet connections. This will result in a disappointing experience.”

Define the project

Planning ahead is crucial to ensure successful results, comments Kevin Madeja, technical director at Snelling Business Systems: “AVoIP conferencing, HD video conferencing and streaming, require a certain minimum bandwidth and QoS to operate correctly. It’s important at the outset to conduct a thorough needs analysis; design of a network topology to support the roll out of the IP conferencing solution, definition of requirements as to minimum standards required relating to the configuration of the network switches to support the rollout. More users also now present wirelessly so a robust wireless network with sufficient speed and bandwidth needs to be provided.

“Organisations need to make sure their network is ready for the demands of video and next generation collaboration technology”

Security and access

Polycom’s Andrew Hug, vice president of systems engineers EMEA, comments that concerns around security and access are ever-present and increasing, so organisations need to make sure they work with their systems integrators and IT departments to address them. “Bandwidth and quality of service can also pose a challenge. The devices we use to conference may demand slightly more bandwidth than in the past. Organisations need to make sure their network is ready for the demands of video and next generation collaboration technology.”

Things to bear in mind when choosing a system should be, says Hug, focused on security and access: Can they share their desktop? Do they have enough storage to collaborate on big files? What about guest access? Where can users access information? What about quality of service as well as bandwidth? “Address these issues and end users will enjoy seamless and productive collaborative conferencing,” he says.

While Mendoza warns change is inevitable: “Innovations in media fromVA, AR and robotics will change the way audiences engage with their environments. That will bring new challenges for networks. Corporate conferencing venues will require a futureproof environment to ensure the network is still capable of handling new technologies ten or fifteen years later.”

“Innovations in media from VA, AR and robotics will change the way audiences engage with their environments”

Big challenges

As to what are the biggest challenges when getting a corporate conferencing network up to speed, explaines Mendoza: “Fundamental challenges include interference issues and providing a stable and reliable network that can withstand the heavy capacity requirements of a conference venue.”

However, Snelling Business Systems’ business development director, Steve Royans, warns: “Collaboration between the AV integrator and the client-side networking team isn’t always holistic in view, and may not necessarily involve all the functionaries critical to successful roll out. For example, sanctioned bandwidth, encryption of data streams and network login credentials policy. This often results in breakdown in the lines of communication.

“An off-shoot of this problem is without all the relevant people involved, a thorough needs-analysis may not have been completed, and therefore, troubles crop up during the lifecycle of the project which could have been avoided, or worse the end user cannot get the solution that they envisioned for the project,” Royans says.

Wired or wireless?

Finally, on what is best for corporate conferencing AV solutions, wired or wireless networks, Hug concludes: “There is no right or wrong answer to this one. It very much depends on the environment and what the enterprise wants to achieve from its conferencing AV solutions. Wireless is great for flexibility but it tends to provide extra security and access challenges.”

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