What is Internet Teleconferencing?

M. McGee

Internet teleconferencing allows people in different locations to communicate over the Internet. This style of teleconferencing can involve any type of telecommunication processes, provided it is transmitted over the Internet. Internet teleconferencing generally falls into one of four areas. Two of these, Internet telephone and video conferencing, existed before the Internet. The other two, web collaboration and augmented reality conferencing, exist because of the speed and data processing capabilities of the web.

Many tablets have teleconferencing capabilities.
Many tablets have teleconferencing capabilities.

Generally, the older two types use existing business infrastructure with small adaptations, while the newer processes require new software and hardware to function. One of the reasons some individuals and businesses switch systems from traditional teleconferencing to Internet teleconferencing is cost. Transmitting information over the Internet can be cheaper than using existing phone lines or satellite connections.

Group of businesspeople in an Internet teleconference.
Group of businesspeople in an Internet teleconference.

Video conferencing also existed before the Internet. The basic setup requires a camera with a microphone that is pointed at all parties in the conference. At every location, a single person or group will look at a screen with all the other parties' live video feeds displayed. Before the Internet, this was typically accomplished through a satellite connection. Now, the video information is transmitted as computer data, which can cut costs and transmission lag.

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Web collaboration is a new communication type to come out of Internet teleconferencing. Unlike the first two conference types, this always takes place in front of a computer screen. The participants use specialized software that provides real-time video and audio capabilities. This style differentiates itself from video conferencing through its use of data transmissions. During the conference, users can show presentation slides, transmit files or allow multiple users editorial access to documents and plans.

Augmented reality conferencing is one of the newest form of Internet teleconferencing and requires new gear. Through the use of basic virtual reality software, multiple people can transport themselves to a single location where they interact with their surroundings. Unlike most new teleconferencing styles, augmented reality rarely allows the users to see one another, as it can be taxing on the systems. Instead, users look over a simulated area that often represents a real place. This type of conference is usually used for planning construction or similar projects--multiple people can be ‘on-site’ from all around the world.

Most forms of Internet telecommunication use basic software and preexisting networks to do the same thing as phone banks and satellites did in the past. The transmission of data over the Internet can be faster and cheaper than dealing with various phone companies and video networks.

Communications satellites were commonly used in the past for teleconferencing.
Communications satellites were commonly used in the past for teleconferencing.

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