TTVN Criteria for Personal Videoconference Systems

Introduction

There are significant opportunities for personal videoconferencing as a means to participate in videoconference courses and meetings from locations such as schools, homes, and businesses. As low cost desktop, laptop, and mobile device Personal Videoconference Systems have come to market, the TTVN staff has spent countless hours working to get individuals who use personal videoconference systems connected to our network. To help make personal videoconferencing a reality, we've established minimum technical criteria for systems that will work with the current TTVN network infrastructure.

Important Points

  • Personal videoconference systems are generally suitable for use by only one or two people. With a desktop or laptop videoconference system, TTVN staff highly recommends that you plan to use a headset with a boom microphone to minimize the possibility of echo or other audio problems.
  • As a user of a Personal Videoconference System, you are responsible for the installation, configuration, and maintenance of the videoconference software and hardware. TTVN does not provide on-site technical support for Personal Videoconference Systems.
  • As a user of a Personal Videoconference System, you are responsible for arranging for a network connection that's properly configured for H.323 IP videoconferencing.
  • As a user of a Personal Videoconference System, you are responsible for adhering to all TTVN operational protocols, particularly the required 30 minute setup and test period prior to all videoconferences.
  • While TTVN staff will assist with your initial videoconference testing of your system and provide telephone technical support prior to and during videoconferences, TTVN staff are not available for unlimited technical assistance or consulting for implementation or maintenance of Personal Videoconference Systems.
  • All Personal Videoconference Systems must be registered by TTVN in order to participate in TTVN videoconferences. TTVN staff will be happy to schedule a test videoconference to register your Personal Videoconference System. All test videoconferences must be scheduled at least one business day in advance of the test time. Personal Videoconference System certification must take place at least one business day prior to the actual videoconference (except for telecourses as noted below).
  • To participate in a TTVN telecourse, Personal Videoconference Systems must be registered and tested at least ten business days (20 business days for international sites) prior to the first class date of the semester. Personal Videoconference System registration tests for telecourse participants will not be scheduled during the first week of the semester due to the high volume of videoconference traffic as classes begin.

Common Personal Videoconference Systems

  • Currently-available Personal Videoconference Systems that work with TTVN H.323 videoconferencing:
    • Polycom RealPresence Desktop - a Windows, Mac, and Mobile Devices software videoconference application. There is a free trial version available.
  • TTVN does not furnish the Polycom RealPresence application or hardware. Users may download a free trial or purchase the application for use for more than 30 days.
  • TTVN H.323 videoconferencing is not currently compatible with consumer-oriented web video applications such as Skype and Apple FaceTime.
  • TTVN H.323 videoconferencing is also not currently compatible with webconferencing/collaboration applications such as Adobe Connect, Blackboard Collaborate, Microsoft Lync, WebEx, and other similar applications.

Computers for Personal Videoconference Systems

In order to provide the best possible videoconference experience, your computer that hosts Polycom RealPresence must meet the minimum technical criteria specified by Polycom. Please see the RealPresence web site for current information about technical requirements. TTVN staff experience also indicates that it's preferable to exceed the published technical requirements to make sure that your computer is capable of reliable videoconferencing and other associated services such as H.239/Dual Stream Video (simultaneous content and image transmission).

Network for Personal Videoconference Systems

From the experience of TTVN staff, here are the minimum requirements for network for Personal Videoconference systems:

For Best Results

  • At least 10mbps (100mbps preferred) data rate with switch and router ports hard set to full duplex transmission.
  • A static, public IP address. Private or NATed IP addresses in the following IP number ranges are acceptable, but the Personal Videoconference System user must dial into a TTVN bridge for every videoconference connection:
    • 10.0.0.0 through 10.255.255.255
    • 172.16.0.0 through 172.31.255.255
    • 192.168.0.0 through 192.168.255.255
  • Local firewall ports open for H.323 videoconferencing as follows:
    • 21 (FTP)
    • 80 (HTTP)
    • 1503 (TCP)
    • 1720 and above (TCP and UDP)

For Acceptable Results

DSL or Cable Modem Business-Class Service

  • Symmetrical DSL or Cable Modem with at least 768kbps uplink and downlink with switch and router ports set to full duplex transmission
  • A static, public IP address. Private or NATed IP addresses in the following IP number ranges are acceptable, but the Personal Videoconference System user must dial into a TTVN bridge for every videoconference connection:
    • 10.0.0.0 through 10.255.255.255
    • 172.16.0.0 through 172.31.255.255
    • 192.168.0.0 through 192.168.255.255
  • Firewall ports open for H.323 videoconferencing as follows:
    • 21 (FTP)
    • 80 (HTTP)
    • 1503 (TCP)
    • 1720 and above (TCP and UDP)

Technical Expertise

The user of the Personal Videoconference System must have, or have ready access to, technical expertise to resolve issues that may involve the computer system, videoconferencing software, and network connections. Technical issues that occur with PC-based videoconference systems may involve many variables and may be time-consuming to resolve over the phone without a significant level of local technical expertise available at the videoconference site.

Due to the high volume of videoconference traffic, TTVN Operations staff have limited time during the 30 minute videoconference setup period to assist with troubleshooting of issues. We highly recommend that you have local expertise readily available if necessary to supplement TTVN staff assistance at the beginning of videoconferences.

TTVN staff will work with you on a time-available basis to resolve issues with your Personal Videoconference System. However, TTVN telephone technical assistance is generally limited to one hour per month for any videoconference site that is not under TTVN contract maintenance. At this time, TTVN does not provide contract maintenance for Personal Videoconference Systems.

Other Information

  • TTVN cannot provide connectivity for any Personal Videoconference System that does not meet the minimum requirements outlined in this document.
  • At this time, TTVN cannot support Personal Videoconference Systems that will be regularly moved to different locations with different network or IP address characteristics for a recurring series of videoconferences. Essentially, we cannot support a laptop-based system that will travel to different locations week-to-week throughout a semester-length course.
  • We prefer that when an established full-service TTVN videoconference site is readily available in a metropolitan area, you plan to use that site rather than a Personal Videoconference System.

Personal Videoconference System Registration Process

To register a new videoconference site for TTVN videoconferences, please complete the following steps:

  • Please read the TTVN videoconference reservations guidelines found at TTVN Reservation Forms.
  • Complete the online TTVN New Videoconference Site Information Form found at TTVN New Site Form.
  • Indicate your choice of a preferred test date and time on the TTVN New Videoconference Site Information Form. Test videoconferences may be scheduled between 8:00am and 3:30pm Central Time Monday through Friday.
  • Please schedule all test videoconferences in advance through TTVN Scheduling. Due to the high volume of videoconference traffic, we cannot accommodate unscheduled test videoconferences.
  • Please plan to be present to operate your videoconference system and check audio and video quality during your scheduled test videoconference with TTVN Operations.
  • If your test call is successful and your Personal Videoconference System meets TTVN standards for operational and network configuration, your system will be registered to participate in TTVN videoconferences. All videoconference systems must be TTVN-registered to in order to be scheduled for TTVN-supported videoconferences.
  • If your test videoconference is not successful or TTVN staff determine that your Personal Videoconference System does not meet TTVN standards for operational and network configuration, you will need to resolve any issues and schedule another test videoconference through TTVN Scheduling.

For more information about using Personal Videoconference Systems for TTVN videoconferences, please contact TTVN at (979) 862-2240 or Contact TTVN.