Videoconferencing

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Videoconference Coordination
Planning Your Department's Videoconference Endpoint
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What is Videoconferencing?

Videoconferencing allows people to communicate across long distances with video and audio contact, using videoconferencing technology.

2. How reliable is videoconferencing?

The reliablity of a conference greatly depends on the network connection between each endpoint. For a point-to-point conference it is recommended to set up a connection test prior to the videoconference date. This way if there are any problems with the endpoints connecting to each other, the connection problems can be dealt with beforehand. For a multi-point conference each endpoint generally has to connect to the MCU prior to participating in the conference. When using the ITS MCU Service all endpoints must be certified and/or registered with our MCU before being able to participate in conferences.

However, keep in mind a successful connection test does not guarantee the videoconference will be problem-free. There are many variables that may affect the functioning and quality of the video conference experience at a particular Endpoint or in a particular conference session.

It is incumbent on the Endpoint Technical Contact to actively monitor the use of the Endpoint and related equipment to help ensure that the video conference sessions function as expected. Critical variables such as Endpoint settings, changes in network configuration or connectivity, and the configuration and management of other Endpoints in a video conference may all have significant impact on the perceived quality of a videoconference session.

3. What do I need to participate in a videoconference?

To participate in a videoconference you will need to schedule a facility that supports videoconferencing. ITS provides a public directory of H.323 endpoints within the UH system for information purposes only. The directory does not list all UH endpoints. Some colleges and departments may prefer not to list their endpoints on the directory. Departments are more than welcome to contact sites that are not listed on this directory. Departments may also want to consider setting up their own videoconferencing facility. If you are interested in setting up your own videoconferencing facility, please send an e-mail to vcs-setup@hawaii.edu.

For more information on how to schedule a videoconference please visit our Videoconference Tips page.

4. Do I need to contact ITS if I want to use videoconference technology?

Not necessarialy. If you are planning on conducting a point-to-point videoconference then you only need to contact the site you wish to videoconference with. However, if you plan to schedule a multi-point videoconference using the ITS MCU Service, then yes you will need to contact ITS.

5. How is the UH service different from other videoconference services like Click to Meet? Can they interoperate?

Click to Meet is a software based videoconferencing service that connects endpoints. The UH ITS MCU Service uses a hardware MCU device to connect endpoints. ITS does not recommend trying to operate the two together.

6. Can I use Microsoft Netmeeting and participate in a videoconference?

Yes, however ITS does not reccommend this route. Since Microsoft Netmeeting is a desktop software that allows one to videoconference, there is a chance for more problems to occur. The reason for this is each computer has its own settings. Also it may not be set up with the proper Network settings (see question 30 for more information on Network settings).

7. Can videoconferences be held with other locations not listed on the UH H.323 Endpoint Directory?

Yes. ITS provides a public directory of H.323 endpoints within the UH system for information purposes only. The directory does not list all UH endpoints. Some colleges and departments may prefer not to list their endpoints on the directory. Departments are more than welcome to contact sites that are not listed on this directory.

8. Is there an easy way to check if the endpoint conference rooms are available?

Each endpoint is responsible for its own schedule. Therefore, the only way to check if an endpoint's conference room is available is to check with the endpoint itself. If you need help getting endpoint contact information please check the UH H.323 Endpoint Directory for a list of ITS MCU registered endpoints.

9. How do I know if the site I would like to conference with is certified/registered with the ITS MCU?

You may check the public UH H.323 Endpoint Directory for a list of registered endpoints.You may also check with the Endpoint Technical/Room Coordinator at the location you would like to conference with.

10. What is the difference between a certified site and a registered site?

Certified site (endpoint) - A site that has conducted a successful connectivity test with the ITS MCU. Once a site is certified it may participate in a conference with the ITS MCU. However, for future conferences this site will need to be certified again as it will not be a registered site with the ITS MCU.

Registered site (endpoint) - A site that has conducted a successful connectivity test with the ITS MCU, has been added into the database and has been given a unique E.164 number. Once a site has been registered it will be able to participate in ITS MCU conferences, regardless if it is used regularly or not.

11. A site I want to videoconference with is not ceritified with the ITS MCU, how do I get that site certified?

Please have the technical contact person at this site fill out the Endpoint Certification form.

12. What happens during a certification test session?

The certification process attempts to validate that the Endpoint, i.e. video conference device and related audio-visual equipment, and associated network connectivity are all compatible with the MCU Service, and, establishes that the requested configuration works properly AT THAT POINT IN TIME.

Prior to the certification test, the Endpoint Technical Contact will be provided with:

  1. an unique E.164 number (for UH sites only) that will identify this Endpoint
  2. the ITS MCU Gatekeeper IP address
  3. the Conference ID for the certification test

The certification test session places the Endpoint, along with all of its associated equipment and network connections, in an actual MCU Service video conference session to identify any compatibility and connectivity issues.

13. Does a successful certification test session mean that I will have successful videconferences?

Since there are many variables that may affect the functioning and quality of the video conference experience at a particular Endpoint or in a particular conference session, successful certification does NOT guarantee that all future MCU Service video conferences will proceed problem-free.

It is useful in identifying obvious compatibility and connectivity issues in advance of any “real” video conference so that these may be addressed in advance, and without impacting a scheduled video conference session.

It is incumbent on the Endpoint Technical Contact to actively monitor the use of the Endpoint and related equipment to help ensure that the video conference sessions function as expected. Critical variables such as Endpoint settings, changes in network configuration or connectivity, and the configuration and management of other Endpoints in a video conference may all have significant impact on the perceived quality of a videoconference session.

14.What is an Endpoint Technical Contact and what are their responsiblitites?

An Endpoint Technical Contact is the person responsible for the proper maintenance, upkeep and operation of the Endpoint, including ensuring that the Endpoint devices are correctly configured and connected to the UH network to support appropriate use of the Endpoint and its participation in video conferences. Endpoint Technical Contacts are responsible to ensure that the Endpoint devices are operating properly prior to the start of the actual video conference, i.e. at the initiation start time.

15. Can I move the videoconference unit to another location and participate in a videoconference?

We reccommend that you do not move your videoconference unit once it has been certified/registered. The reason for this is a the unit most likely will be placed on a different point of your network. If the unit is placed on a different point of the network then there may be connection problems. For example, you may have now placed your unit behind a firewall whereas it was not behind a firewall before, you may now have your unit on a shared instead of a switched Ethernet, etc.

If you plan to move your videoconference unit to another location, then you will need to have your unit re-certified/registered with the ITS MCU Service. To re-certify/register your endpoint please submit the following form: Endpoint Certification Form

16. Can I submit the MCU Service Request Form before checking whether the sites/endpoints are available?

No. It is important for the Requestor to contact each endpoint that will participate in the conference and schedule the endpoint first before requesting the use of the ITS MCU service. ITS is not responsible for the scheduling of each endpoint and will not double check with each endpoint on their availability for you. If you do not schedule each endpoint prior to filling out the ITS MCU Service request form then you may run into problems of having double-booked endpoints, as well as other various complications.

17. Why do I need to get the GDS number from each site I want to schedule for my multipoint conference?

The GDS number is a final way for ITS to verify that the requested site is indeed certified or registered with the ITS MCU. All sites must be certified or registered with the ITS MCU before participating in any conferences using this service.

18. Can a non-UH entity use the ITS MCU service?

The ITS MCU service is only available to departments within the University of Hawaii system.

If a University of Hawaii department would like to include a non-UH entity in one of its multipoint conferences then the technical contact for this non-UH entity will need to fill out our Endpoint Certification form to become certified with the ITS MCU. All sites must be certified and/or registered with the ITS MCU before being able to particiapte in a multipoint videoconference using the ITS MCU service. A non-UH entity will only be able to be a certified site with the ITS MCU, it will not be a registered site.

19. Will ITS be informing the endpoints with the Conference ID to dial-in for my videoconference?

It is the Requestor's responsibility to make sure that all relevant information is distributed to each participating site, i.e. dial-in time, Conference ID, etc. ITS will not be notifying each site with this information.

20. Do I need to notify ITS if I am going to make any changes to my multipoint videoconference, i.e. adding, cancelling sites?

Yes. Whenever you need to make any changes to your multipoint videoconference please contact the ITS Interactive Video Scheduler at (808) 956-2724 or itvscheduler-l@hawaii.edu. On the day of the conference sites that are not already pre-scheduled into the ITS MCU will not be able to connect to the conference.

Also, please keep in mind, that changes to a pre-existing multipoint videoconference may generate a new Conference ID. It is important that each site is aware of the correct Conference ID before the day of the conference to help minimize connection problems.

21. What is a Conference ID?

A Conference ID is a randomly generated 6 digit number created by the scheduling software for the ITS MCU. This Conference ID is the number that each site will need to dial on the day of the conference in order to connect to the ITS MCU service. An example of a Conference ID is "641234". It is important to keep in mind that this number will change everytime there are any alterations made to your multipoint conference, e.g. adding or cancelling sites. Whenever any changes are made ITS will send you your new Conference ID. Once you receive this updated Conference ID please make sure that each scheduled endpoint is aware of the changes. If an endpoint does not have the correct Conference ID then they will not be able to connect the ITS MCU on the day of the conference.

22. Can H.323 videoconferencing support a staff training workshop with large audience participation at each site?

H.323 videoconferencing best supports small groups. For example, administrative meetings, research collaborations, job interviews, and dissertation defenses.

For videoconference requests requiring classrooms for large events such as: large group meetings, training workshops, seminars and presentations it may be best to use the Hawaii Interactive Television Service-2 (HITS2). HITS2 primary use is for distance learning, therefore availability is very dependent on each semester's course load. Please note videoconferences held via HITS2, are limited to HITS2 sites within the UH system.

23. How can I include my power-point presentation using a Polycom videoconferencing unit?

For information on how to include a power-point presentation using a Polycom videoconference unit, please click here.

24. How much notification do you require for conducting a videoconference?

For multi-point videoconferencing ITS highly recommends that you begin planning for your conference no later than two-weeks before your proposed videoconference date. ITS must receive the MCU request form no later than 72 hours prior to the day of the conference. For point to point videoconferencing please contact the individual site you wish to connect with. It is important to note, that each individual site may have their own notification requirements.

25. Is the MCU service available 24 x 7?

No. The MCU service is available during the following hours:

  • Core hours: M-F 8:00 Am - 4:30 PM
  • Limited Coverage Hours: M-F 4:30 PM - 11:00 PM; Saturday 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM

26. How am I billed for each videoconference?

ITS will typically not charge the requesting UH department for MCU usage.


27.What should I do if I experience problems during the videoconference?

For point to point videoconferences: Contact your local site technical representative or coordinator.

For multi-point videoconferences: First contact your local Enpoint Technical Contact Person. If the problem can not be solved locally contact (808) 956-9167.

28. How do I determine my unit's compatibility with other videoconferencing devices?

Most H.323 videoconference devices are compatible with each other. However, we recommend conducting a test before the videoconference date to ensure compatibility. If you are planning to use the ITS MCU service, and you have a site(s) that is not certified with our MCU, please have the uncertified endpoint submit our Endpoint Certification Form.

29. My department would like to purchase videoconference equipment so that we can hold meetings with other institutions, who can I contact for more information?

Please send an e-mail to vcs-setup@hawaii.edu.


30. What type of network concerns should our department be aware of in setting up our conference room as a videoconference site?

As much as possible the videoconferencing unit should be connected to a network switch or isolated network. The reason for this is H.323 videoconferencing units and any local network traffic will directly compete with each other causing the network to slow down. If your unit is behind a firewall(s), please contact your local network administrator in charge of the firewall(s) to enable the videoconferencing port.

31. Does ITS provide videoconference training classes?

ITS do not provide videoconference training classes at this time. However, if ITS is initially assisting in establishing a videoconference room for your department, there may be a brief hands-on orientation in the
use of the equipment. Departments that own their own equipment are responsible for training users.

32. What's the ITS recommended configuration for a videoconference unit?

Polycom has several different models of videoconferencing units available for mainstream, small-meeting use. Models such as the Polycom VSX-6000 or VSX-7xxx series have the basic features you would need for videoconferencing. Your choice of unit will depend on the optional features you may want. It is also important to have a good network connection to the device, with a switched port to the datajack so as to
have adequate bandwidth available for the best videoconferencing experience. Please consult with ITS if you are interested in purchasing your own device for your department. ITS does not recommend units for
personal desktop use. For more information regarding purchasing a videoconference unit please contact vcs-setup@hawaii.edu.

33. Does ITS provide assistance in maintaining the videoconference equipment?

No, ITS may provide equipment recommendations, but departments and offices are responsible for maintaining their own videoconference equipment.

34. Can I use the multi-point conference feature in my videoconference unit?

Several Polycom units have a MCU feature. For example the VSX-7800, has a built-in multi-point conference feature that can support up to a total of four endpoints (your endpoint + 3 others). Using such a unit, you may schedule and establish your own meetings without ITS intervention; the drawback being that ITS will not be able to remotely monitor your meeting for problems.


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Updated: December 17, 2009