At times it seems that video conferencing and web conferencing are just different names for the same thing. Not quite though. In many ways they look and feel the same but the underlying technology is different. Web conferencing uses proprietary technology with it’s roots in audio conferencing. Today’s web conferencing allows you to share a browser, share your desktop, upload videos, upload files, change and add presenters and with the dramatic drop in pricing is getting very popular. As broadband gets widespread and inexpensive, more and more people are using web conferencing to communicate with remote employees, agents, affiliates and to conduct webinars for larger audiences. The major players in this market are WebEx and GoToMeeting but there are some good smaller challengers like MeetCheap.
Web Conferencing works in a proprietary environment, that is, if you are conducting a webinar using WebEx, then everyone must log into the WebEx meeting room online to participate.
Video Conferencing on the other hand is a standards based environment. If you use the international standards algorithm H.239 on your equipment, you can communicate with anyone as long as they are using the same standards on their equipment. That equipment can be a computer or a smart phone. That’s very similar to making a telephone call or exchanging emails. Both sides can see each other, share their computers, conference with multiple parties and share desktops similar to web conferencing.
Web Conferencing is a subscription based model, you pay on a monthly or usage basis. Video Conferencing is on an ownership based model. If you own the equipment, you don’t have to pay anyone. If you don’t have the equipment, Video Conferencing is available on a rental basis and many cities have public video conferencing meeting rooms you can rent. You can also rent web based video conferencing rooms.
Could video conferencing make web conferencing obsolete? It is possible if the international standards are adopted quickly by people all over the world.
Bottom line – both video conferencing and web conferencing behave similarly but the underlying technology is different. As a user, you should use what you can afford and what level of quality and compatibility is acceptable to you.