Choosing the right video conferencing provider is a task that is essential if you want to get the most from your virtual meetings. In order to choose the right service, it is important to compare different video conferencing providers based on factors such as network redundancy, ease of the site certification process, quality of the transmissions, connection capacity, and the total cost per connection. Taking the time to look closely at each of these issues will make it much easier to choose the right provider and ensure your meetings are relatively free of interruptions or dropped connections that could waste time and money.
One of the first things to consider with any video conferencing provider is the type of video conferencing technology that is used to create the point of termination for all the connections related to your calls. This means asking questions about the video conferencing equipment itself. Find out if the system has the ability to interface with relative ease with other types of video conferencing technology that is in common use today. This is especially important if you envision using video conferences with current and potential clients as well as for in-house meetings. While obtaining information about the type of bridging equipment used, also get some idea of what type of technology is used to make connections with each location in your calls, ranging from data streaming over the Internet to use of digital phone lines and even microwave transmissions capable of carrying video as well as audio.
Talk with each video conferencing provider about redundancy in the network. This is simply the ability of the network to support backup connections that can be used in the event that a primary connection to the meeting is disrupted for some reason. Along with discussing redundancy, also get some idea of what happens if a speaker or moderator location should disconnect from the meeting. Depending on the configurations possible with the equipment, the remainder of the call may remain intact, while with others the entire meeting must be re-established.
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Make it a point to ask each video conferencing provider about the process used to manage site certification. This is simply the strategy used to determine if each of the sites attending an upcoming meeting will be able to connect to the conference with ease. Many providers provide a free test run a few days before the live meeting, making it possible to make sure that attendees using a public conference room can successfully connect to the meeting.
Assuming that the network is solid and has the features you need for the meeting, turn your attention to the pricing offered by each video conferencing provider. Keep in mind that pricing structures will vary, with some providers charging a flat fee per connection, plus a per minute charge for however long each connection remains in the call. Additional costs may be assessed for full-time operator support or other ancillary services during the meeting. Use a model of your typical video conference and ask each video conferencing provider to prepare a quote based on that model, taking care to include all fees and charges in that quote. This will make it easier to compare the costs even if all the providers you are considering use different pricing structures.