Live video has come a long way since the early 1990s. Remember the images of reporters filing news reports through the analog-transmitted video feed during the first Gulf War? It was shaky at best. But times and technology have changed and video streams are not even close to what they were then.

These days, old analog types are history. Digital has helped pave the way for video to make its mark. Internet protocol (IP) helped foster an overall communications revolution, and video is no exception.

IP continues to push development forward. Video over Internet protocol has come into its own. More and more companies (and individuals) are becoming convinced that the technology is not a fleeting fad, but an example of what is to come.

Seemingly “free of charge” long-distance calling at high rates of speed and low levels of interference is just one reason video over IP has become popular. Such advances help explain why video over IP, the next generation IP solution, has developed. It is a likely next step.

Siemens Corp., an electronics com-pany, explained it best in one of their case studies: “Video over IP or IP Streaming Video are newer technologies that allow video signals to be captured, digitized, streamed and managed over IP networks.”

Video has been an integral part of business for some time, but the cost and complexity of the systems hindered its popularity. However, IP allows video to be managed over the same network as voice, which is yet another positive spin on convergence.

Breaking it down

Video over IP is the blanket definition of technologies such as video on demand (VOD) over IP, video broadcast/streaming video over IP, and video conferencing over IP. Each usage is unique, yet the basic technologies are similar.

In the past, integrated services digital network (ISDN) video conferencing was considered to be the best technology available for video.

But ISDN developed a reputation of being unreliable and difficult to use, which may explain why there was not a push to develop a video solution.

IP video is out to change that lack of a trend. The market for video over IP is growing. According to The Gartner Group, IP video applications will be used by 80 percent of Fortune 200 companies by the year 2006.

In-Stat, a market research company, places the video conferencing market at around $875 million for products and $5.5 billion for services by 2007. When companies start to understand how user-friendly the technology is and what the benefits are, high revenue figures are inevitable.

“Video over IP is the convergence of video onto the IP network—the same way that voice is an application on the network,” said Chris Cullin, product-marketing manager for Rich Media Communications, Cisco Systems Inc.

The benefactors

Some technologies benefit certain markets more than others, but video over IP can benefit most businesses. The perks are compounded if the company has an IP network already in place, because the addition of video adds another application to the IP network, helping improve region of interest.

In the past, video in the boardroom or workplace required time and dedication. Designated meeting rooms were outfitted with the wires, cables and equipment necessary to host or even participate in a video broadcast. The infamous remote control became something of a thorn in the side of those wanting to use the system.

“Video over IP is the enabler that is moving video out of the conference room and on to the desktop,” said Cullin.

By making the technology so seemingly user-friendly, there seems to be more uses for this video solution.

Video over IP makes things such as VOD for continuing education easily achievable. Training and sales meetings can be facilitated without a problem. The list of uses is almost endless.

The technology not only has the ability to bring people together, it can do it cost-effectively. Instead of having to transport individuals from various branch locations to a central spot for a meeting, those same individuals can remain in their home locations and interact through a videoconferencing over IP session and achieve the same results. The costs savings—for travel and lost work time—can almost pay for the system in no time.

Since most IP networks are private, they are relatively secure. Certain sectors, such as the financial industry, may want to take into consideration. Video transmission over this type of a network would be suitable for even the most sensitive material.

Though video over IP may seem like a luxury for many companies, it is a solution that contractors can easily promote, especially since most are already quite proficient at VoIP already. Taking what you know about voice and replacing it with video is a good first step in becoming acquainted with the technology. EC

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.