More than 80 national and international research institutions and networking organizations are participating in Megaconference, the world's largest H.323 Internet video conference, being held today in Seattle. Megaconference runs in conjunction with the Fall Internet2 Meeting, taking place today through Wednesday. The Megaconference is a permanent, continuous multipoint H.323 Internet video conference organized and supported by the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) located in Columbus.
"We believe that for video to be widely adopted, it must first be easy for the average person or educator to prepare and distribute materials over the Internet, and the H.323 technology provides these benefits," said OSC Networking Director Douglas Gale.
H.323 is the latest, and by far the least expensive, real-time audio/video teleconferencing technology being deployed. Although real-time audio/video transmission is nothing new -- we see it everyday on live newscasts -- achieving real-time for distance learning and in the home is still prohibited by the high costs of satellite and microwave transmission, high bandwidth coaxial cables and optical fibers, and the skilled personnel required to operate the equipment.
The H.323 technology provides virtually the same real-time capabilities at a fraction of the costs -- and low costs are a big help to higher education's distance learning initiatives. With a bandwidth requirement of only 384 Kbps, H.323 can be easily transmitted over current Internet lines, with only a minimal amount (less than $700) spent on site investment. H.323 has the potential to drastically reduce the cost of distance learning because it is inexpensive, easy to use, and doesn't require expensive equipment and connections.
Gene Wallis, Associate Director for Networking and Operations at OSC Networking, said this technology has great potential to be incorporated into computers, telephones and television, and just about any other product created by consumer demand. "Everyone is pretty well convinced that this technology has a future in at least the educational market, and at this point ,we're working on fine tuning it so that when we're delivering the voice and video they are in sync, on time, every time," Wallis said.
For more information on the Megaconference, go to www.internet2.edu/html/fall99details.html#megaconference. The Megaconference will be broadcast live to the world in several different formats. It and other Fall Internet2 events can be reached at www.internet2.edu/html/fall99netcast.html .
OSC Networking is a division of OSC, a statewide resource that presents new technologies in computing, networking and education to Ohio. OSC Networking was established in 1987 to provide access to OSC's supercomputer. Today, OSC Networking is the largest statewide research network in the country.