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4,000 Reasons Why 4K is the Next Wave of Video Conferencing
June 19th, 2017

4,000 Reasons Why 4K is the Next Wave of Video Conferencing

Virginia Fair

Like a tsunami steadily approaching the shoreline, 4K video conferencing is poised to shake things up when it gets here. So what should you expect?

Like a tsunami steadily approaching the shoreline, 4K video conferencing is poised to shake things up when it gets here. Those who live along the shoreline usually have an advanced warning so they’ll be ready when the big tidal wave hits. Thanks to all the publicity surrounding 4K resolution, prudent businesses and IT professionals won’t be taken unawares, either.

4K video resolution, the greatest pixel invasion yet

There’s HD and then there’s HD. HD or High Definition refers to the sum total of pixels that make up the clarity and detail in a video. Back in the 1990s, video camera manufacturer, awed by its resolution rushed to adopt 720p HD. But they quickly abandoned it when 1020p HD came along right behind it.

Why? Pixels! The p stands for pixels, and the number for how many make up the horizontal resolution. 720p HD has a full resolution of 1280 pixels x 720 pixels. 1020p video was noticeably better because it has 1920 x 1020-pixel resolution. So, can you imagine the video you can get with 4K’s 4096 X 2160 UHD. Here’s a hint. U stands for ultra.

In just a few years, the concept of 4K video became retail reality. Flat-screen televisions, smartphones, cameras, not to mention Netflix, all touted stunning ultra-high definition. And it may be coming to an office near you, maybe yours if Logitech, Vidyo, Cisco and other video conferencing vendors have their way.

4K video conferencing

Yes, video conferencing in 4,000 pixels; that’s 4,000 reasons it’s the next wave of video conferencing. Mind you, we’re not talking about Skype and other browser-based video chat apps. Not yet anyway; as you can surmise from the vendors cited, these are enterprise video conferencing solutions They’re room systems that require 4K screens or displays.

They use cameras and webcams to capture video and software to compress and encode it before prior to transmission.  Because the cameras have 4K (or higher) sensors, they’re able to record, process, and compress video of superior quality resolution. As for transmission, that’s a different story. That depends on bandwidth and internet connections, not the camera, the software, or the displays.

Transmitting and receiving 4K video

Internet connections

All video conferencing solutions require an upstream and a downstream per user. 4K video transmission requires at least 15 MBPS both up and down. Contrast that with 720p which requires 1-4 MBPS and 1020p which need 4-8 MBPS. If the setup is one to one, there’s no problem. Most internet connections could handle a 4K video conference but would suffer from the addition of more users.

Remember each bi-lateral user requires 15 MBPS. Remember, this is a video conference, the internet connection must be capable of sustaining the speed for however long it takes.  Very few are.

Onsite connections

Problems can also surface with wi-fi and ethernet network interface cards. Either can run out of juice when asked to saturate the internet connection with 30 or more MBPS of constant traffic.

Competing Traffic

It’s should come as no surprise that most ISPs oversubscribe their bandwidth capacities. As a result, the speed can vary according to the time of day and number of customers streaming video. This is more of a problem for offices located in residential areas or conferencing evenings or on weekends. But bear in mind there are at least two sites involved.

The future of 4K video conferencing

For now, 4K video conferencing is hogtied by the internet, and video conferencing systems are quite costly. But technology being technology, we can expect internet access speeds to go up and prices to come down. So, for now, we can expect 4K video conferencing to remain a niche market, paving the way for the next wave of video conferencing.

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