Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Telephony

There's no such thing as free lunch!" We have thought about this long and hard! Finally we decided it's quality that matters. Ask yourself this: "Would I rather spend time in a conference where the quality of the sound largely depends on the availability of my or other people's network bandwidth?" And think about the total quality of a meeting; even if you have a steady connection, chances are that others in the meeting might not, which is why we say that it's all about priorities. To have a professional, efficient meeting, surely there is a price to pay but we are convinced that you will not be unhappy with the return on that investment. The 3-GSP service is not in competition with "free service" but is an alternative or a complement to traditional meeting.
Making the service very easy to use is a key for user adoption. We have done a tremendous job of integrating telephony with our webconferencing platform. The combination has "Made it so easy, our users love to use it!" Voice, data and video are integrated and managed from one environment giving full control via just a few mouse clicks. The meeting organiser can concentrate only on his meeting without being distracted by having to control multiple devices at the same time. And yes, you can use other teleconferencing services, but you won't have the same smooth experience.
What is the benefit of having 2 separate channels, voice on the phone and data & video on the web? The dual channel approach with voice over the phone and data via the Internet allows ensuring high voice quality while operation on low-bandwidth, unreliable networks. This means the service can be accessed via DSL, UMTS or GPRS (EDGE) to offer complete mobility. Furthermore, the dual channel improves the resilience of the meeting because an attendee never fully looses touch with the meeting in case of a hiccup on either the Internet or phone network. In case of internet connection loss, you can tell your attendee on the phone how to get back in by simply refreshing the page of the navigator (F5 on most). If a phone is disconnected (pressing the wrong button, low battery) the service automatically invites the attendee to reconnect on the phone number of his choice. Technically, voice is a very immediate method of communication - a delay of just 300ms is noticeable and delays over 500ms are annoying. Therefore, network latency and jitter (the variability in latency) are the biggest enemies of internet telephony. They are countered by reducing packet size (latency), increasing network load and buffering (jitter) increasing latency. The phone network doesn't have these problems. Latency is fixed (no jitter) and low (around 50ms for non-satellite connections). Finally, the phone network is circuit-switched, which means that an established connection is reserved for the duration of the call. The Internet doesn't take reservations. If things get busy, your call may get dropped. Video and data on the other hand, are less immediate. Everybody knows that a presentation needs a few seconds to load. If video is delayed by 1 second or gets a bit jittery, it's not a big deal. If the adaptive compression algorithm decreases the quality temporarily in bad bandwidth conditions, no problem. The synchronisation of mouse pointers, drawing elements and page swaps needs so little bandwidth that it will be swift in the worst conditions.
Some services provide acceptable quality sound most of the time even with more than 2 or 3 participants. An Internet conference bridge needs to synchronize the sound from each participant, mix it for each participant and send it off. Each participant has different latency (delay) and jitter (variance in latency). Latency in a 2-way conversation is the time it takes between a speaker to start speaking and the listener to hear the first sound. In a conference, this latency can be split in 2. The delay to get the audio to the conference bridge (up) and the delay to get it to each participant (down). To get a smooth result, the conference bridge must anticipate on the highest-up-latency, highest-jitter participant to be able to mix consistently. Unfortunately, seeing that many people have ADSL, the bandwidth for sending date up is much smaller than for sending down. This means that the up-latency represents the biggest part in the total latency. Thus, an Internet conference bridge will have increased latency as the number of participants increases. It's already difficult to manage speakers in a regular audio conference; it's a challenge to speak in turns in a high-latency 2-way conversation. It's mission impossible to manage speakers with high-latency internet telephony.
The short answer: to save your time. By dialling out, everyone get's called at the same time and the chances of starting your meeting within 5 minutes of the scheduled start are much higher than when having attendees dial in. Nonetheless, dial-in is just another option that you can offer to your meeting attendees.

Yes, 3-GSP distinguishes 3 types of IP telephony:

  • VOIP Managed network
  • Flash Managed network
  • Internet (unmanaged)

In the 2 first solutions, you need to have a managed IP network in your organisation.

In the first solution, you also need VOIP terminals such as a softphone or a hardware IP phone and a gateway for dialling to phones outside your organisation. We then integrate a VOIP-enabled conference bridge into your managed network.

In the second solution, the phone terminal is integrated in the meeting room application, using the speakers and microphone of each attendee's PC. We then integrate a Flash Media Server into your managed network. Calls to participants outside your organisation connect through the Internet, so the quality may suffer in such cases (see third solution).

In the third solution, you don't need anything else. We just enable IP audio on your account and the meeting room application becomes a IP phone terminal. Audio is sent over the internet, so there is no guarantee of sound quality.

We have 2 solutions for this. The first is for people to dial in. Once they are connected on the web, they can get their PIN code and dial in to one of the dial-in numbers.

The solution for dial-out is called assisted mode. In this mode, a reception room is split from the meeting room. The moderator or an assistant can go to this room and dial attendees one at a time. When the assistant gets a reception desk or menu on the phone, he can simply request to be put through. Once the right person is on the line, he can simply move this attendee to the meeting room and call the next person.

Video

It would be a strange idea not to see each other in a traditional meeting. So why would you hide in a virtual one?

Even if a webcam does not offer all the body language that a face-to-face meeting offers, it improves the efficiency of the meeting by helping to identify the speaker (automatic). Seeing the others helps identify with them and the place they are at. And being seen helps to keep everyone focused and concentrated on the meeting (as time goes by, the urge to multi-task can be excruciating).

To avoid cluttering the screen with too many video streams, we chose the limit their number to 4. However, you can have many more active webcams in a meeting. Thanks to voice-activated video selection, you don't have to worry about whose video should be shared. The speech-detection module automatically ensures that the attendees that participate in the discussion are visible.
The meeting room is the first thing your attendees see. By using a photograph or 3D image, you create perspective and proximity for the attendees, putting them at ease with the tool. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to brand your meeting with the image and value of your company or your customers and partners.

Security

We don't think twice about security when we pick up the phone. Phone conversations are inherently secure by the closed nature of the telephone network. We use the Internet for exchanging data and video streams. All these exchanges are secured by the widely used SSL protocol with 128-bit encryption. It is the same level of security that is used by web-shops, banks and credit card processors to avoid eavesdropping on confidential information.
Our infrastructure consists of 4 types of server on which resources are dynamically allocated for each meeting. Resources can be allocated on any of a number of redundant servers. Automatic load-balancing ensures that capacity is optimized while automatically switching over on another server if one fails.

Technical

You need a simple Internet connection to connect to our servers. You can use DSL, GPRS or a company network. Our application uses Flash Player to connect to the server, which is designed to pass most firewalls and proxies.
No, service will work on the same port you use to browse the web, port 80. However, if you are behind an application-layer firewall that blocks all non-HTTP traffic on port 80, our server needs to switch to HTTP-tunnelling, which results in less fluid video streaming. In such cases, it can be advantageous to open port 1935, dedicated to Flash RMTP traffic.
No, you just need an Internet connection and a regular telephone.
Any desktop or laptop PC with any of the currently available operating systems (Windows Linux, Mac, etc.) that runs Flash Player 9. You also need a telephone. Optionally, you need a webcam. For you convenience, we recommend using a telephone with hands-free function or with a headset.
Our software requires Firefox 1.5 or higher, Internet Explorer 6 or higher for Windows or Safari.
Yes. Our application passes all network-layer and most application-layer firewalls. Only sophisticated HTTP-inspecting proxies and packet shapers may block our application. This is what makes our software so user-friendly. There is no support required.
No problem. Our software is available to all PC's within your company at the click of the mouse.
You can set up your LDAP or other directory server to push the address book to our server as often as you like. Our server accepts the data in vCard RDF format.
No software needs to be installed to use the standard facilities. Only for the screen sharing option the installation of a plug-in is required.
Each video stream uses around 80kbps. With a maximum of 4 videos, you need about 360kbps down and 80kbps up to have smooth video. At half that speed, you will get acceptable quality.
Cheap webcams today are almost as good as professional cameras. You can use any type or brand of camera or webcam that comes with a driver supported by your operating system. Any camera that is advertised to work with a chat program will work with our system.
Turn on the lights where you are! The digital chip in most webcams that capture the image need quite a lot of light in order to function well. The best is indirect light from above that reflects from white walls. Also, make sure that there is no light source behind you. Light from behind will saturate the chip, making you look dark.
Wide angle cameras are appropriate for room-to-room meetings when multiple participants are in the same room. We will be more than happy to give you specific counselling on your particular situation.
Yes you can and we do offer this possibility. Since this requires a lot of infrastructure on the client network we kindly ask you to Contact directly with your specific queries on this topic.

Architecture

Our infrastructure is H.323-ready. Connecting to an H.323 end-point or MCU requires mediation by a special gateway that we can provision. Since this requires integration, we kindly invite you to Contact directly if this is of interest to you.

The server infrastructure consists of 4 types of virtual servers, which communicate with each other over secure TCP/IP protocols.

The conference bridge manages telephony traffic and switching

The streaming server manages video streaming, web meeting sessions and synchronization between attendees.

The data server stores documents.

The billing and scheduling server manages user accounts, profiles, scheduling, billing and reporting.

All or parts of this modular infrastructure can be hosted on your internal servers.

Deployment

In most companies, internal and external communications -more often than not through meetings- form part of almost every process. We help companies by providing them new possibilities to support their business processes.

The main factors to be successful in the deployment of a new process are the following:

  • Clearly communicate about the availability of new tools
  • Motivate people by explaining the benefits and reasons for the change
  • Have senior management set clear objectives related to the new process.

Cost saving, time saving or environmental benefits are additional rewards.

The tool on its own does not bring much value!

Companies must rank their priorities starting with efficiency of processes. Improving communication in companies has been an ongoing goal in performing organisations.

Meeting techniques

Tout dépend de l'objectif de la réunion. On peut classer la plupart des réunions dans trois catégories, allant du plus rationnel au plus émotionnel:
  • Information gathering/distribution
  • Decision making
  • Creativity

Rational meetings are usually better suited to conduct virtually, although habituated users can be very efficient in virtual creative meetings.

Meetings are part of a process or a project involving several meetings. Efficiency comes from alternating between face-to-face and virtual meetings, putting more of the creativity and personal touch in the face-to-face meetings while handling more rational tasks without travelling. Companies using both types see the overall outcomes of their meetings and projects largely improve.

Meeting fatigue is a very common phenomenon, mostly observed in audio conferences. It stems from long listening and results in losing attention, tiredness and even headache. Using a hands-free function telephone or a headset helps because you don't need to hold the phone. We recommend to build in a 5-minute break every hour in which the phone-lines are dropped, but the videos keep running. After 5 minutes, the moderator calls back all the attendees to continue. Finally, the 'excuse-me' function provides a means for an attendee that is not a vital part of a discussion to indicate that he's going to get a coffee or wash his hands for 5 minutes without disturbing the meeting.
For the moment all Microsoft Office Suite file types and Adobe Acrobat files can be loaded and presented on the platform. By embedding pictures into a Word, Powerpoint or Excel files, these can also be easily shared.