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Web Conferencing Defined

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A web conference is a way to have meetings over the internet using only a web browser and a plug-in. Most often used in conjunction with your telephone, web conferencing can be used to have online meetings with one or more individuals or groups at the same time from virtually anywhere and anytime. For groups of three or more locations, voice conferencing can be used with web conferencing.

Web conferencing: setting the stage for expanding your reach
Written by David Collins for The Business Review:
In an ongoing effort to extend their reach without extending their budgets, a growing number of Capital Region businesses and organizations, both large and small, are turning to Web conferencing as an alternative to traditionally-held meetings, mitigating the high cost of business travel.

But why Web conferencing and not the more familiar audio conferencing and video conferencing? For clarity's sake let's set a few definitions.

Audio conferencing or, if you prefer, telephone conferencing, has been around as long as the telephone. Essentially, people exchange information in one dimension or at one level--the auditory level. The upside to this is that participants can join in an audio conference from anywhere there is phone service.

Video conferencing, generally referred to as listening to a "talking head," adds a visual dimension to audio conferencing and, because it's computer-based, allows for a certain amount of electronic collaboration at the group level.

Equipment and transmission costs are significant, however, effectively forcing a paradigm where participants must congregate in a video conferencing room, which in many cases is a considerable distance from a participant's work location. Nonetheless, it is a major step forward in facilitating cost-effective communication.

The bottom line is that video conferencing is cost-prohibitive for all but very large organizations, and audio conferencing, while significantly less costly than video conferencing, is by definition, one-dimensional.

But what if we could incorporate the ubiquity of the phone line with the incremental functionality of video conferencing at a reasonable cost and deliver it to an individual participant's desktop PC or Mac at work or at home?

Enter Web conferencing, available to anyone with a PC or Mac and an Internet connection. Think of Web conferencing as audio conferencing on steroids.

Web conferencing supports the incremental ability to share visual content and Web cam images, exchange private audio or text messages, collaborate on a white board, work on the same document or file, conduct polls, lead Web site tours, share applications for training or demonstrations and a host of other features that support the interactions that one would expect in a physical setting.

And last, for those who aren't able to attend a Web conference because of scheduling conflicts, there is the ability to record a Web conference for future replay.

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