Video Conferencing Protocols and Common Challenges

Video conferencing is a great way to communicate with your colleagues, partners, and clients. Online meetings are more engaging than traditional phone calls, email conversations or instant messages and can really boost your team productivity. However, video meetings are also more demanding: they impose increased requirements for both video conferencing endpoints and your communication channels.

Scheme Architecture


What Affects the Quality of Your Video Conferences?

Bandwidth is possibly the most important asset to a successful video conference, and we are used to evaluating video conferencing quality with the bandwidth. However, this might not be totally true. The connection speed can rapidly change during the meeting, drop or shift depending on the transmission mode, while it is critically important for the data streams to be stable, smooth and predictable during video conferences.

Video conferencing system can easily adjust the bandwidth from 64kb/s to 4Mb/s depending on the conferencing mode and signal quality of the participants. It is much more difficult to adapt the stream to constantly changing network conditions of each conference participant.

Video conferencing architecture and its ability to operate under constantly changing conditions plays the key role in ensuring video conferencing quality. Here are some common video conferencing challenges that may negatively affect your meetings:

How to prevent the most common video conferencing challenges? The simplest and the most expensive solution is to put fixed restrictions on both hardware and network resources of your video conferencing system.

Fortunately, science and technologies are evolving fast and modern video conferencing systems provide excellent connection quality under any conditions due to advanced software architecture.

Video Conferencing Architecture


In any group video conference, there is a certain way to transmit data between its participants. Given the fact that direct connection between conference participants is hardly applicable due to the most common video conferencing challenges, we need to consider a system that supports star typology and can be used as a medium, i.e. video conferencing server.

All solutions were previously divided into two categories: software and hardware solutions. but this approach has been considered outdated since 2014, because clear separation between hardware and software solutions simply disappeared: there are hardware systems that combine typical software architecture (switching and SVC) and software systems with built-in MCU. Second, leading video conferencing vendors tend to deliver their video infrastructure as a software in a virtualized environment.

SFU (Selective Forwarding Unit)

SFU (Selective Forwarding Unit) is a video conferencing architecture in which the data transfer process between the server and endpoints occurs in multiple stages: first, the server receives incoming video streams from all endpoints, then, it transmits several copies of the video streams of the other participants to each endpoint without compression, and, finally, the endpoints glue the incoming video streams together.

One of the advantages of this system is the reduction in channel requirements, thanks to a single outgoing stream. At the same time, the server load is reduced due to a significant increase in the load on the participants' equipment, as they have to process numerous threads.


SVC-Based Video Conferencing Architecture

This type of architecture includes all advantages of mixing approach and escapes all drawbacks of multiplex-based systems. It is affordable and easily scalable, and it runs on any platform thanks to advanced signal processing and data compression technologies.

Here’s what SVC-based architecture does: an endpoint compresses its video stream in layers - each additional layer comes with an increased video resolution, quality and FPS. If the channel between an endpoint and a video conferencing server provides high bandwidth, the endpoint sends the maximum number of layers. SVC stream varies by only 15-20% bandwidth as compared to non-SVC stream, and requires much less bandwidth than the switching approach.

After receiving an SVC stream with layers, the video conferencing server cuts off excessive layers without transcoding by getting rid of data packages. In this way it creates individual sets of streams for each participant of a group video conference on the fly, in accordance with its actual connection conditions, available resources, layout requested, screen resolution etc. This in turn brings great resiliency.

This type of architecture includes all advantages of mixing approach and escapes all drawbacks of multiplex-based systems. It is affordable and easily scalable, and it runs on any platform thanks to advanced signal processing and data compression technologies.

The Use of Advanced Protocols and Codecs

Standard data transfer protocols are used to hold video conferences between software systems and hardware endpoints from third-party manufacturers.

Video Conferencing Protocols

Compression and playback of video and audio during a video session is carried out through the use of audio and video codecs.

Video Conferencing Protocols

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