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Broadcasting a Conference Over the Internet

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 14 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Broadcasting A Conference Over The Internet

As the worlds of computing and television continue to merge into one digital medium broadcasting a conference is now relatively easily. For many years conferences have been recorded, initially just audio and then in video too, in order to store the results for posterity. This also meant that tapes or disks of the proceedings could be sent out to those who weren't able to make it.

Digital Recording and Broadcasting

Once those recordings are being made in a digital format it's then just another step to be able to send those recordings direct to the Internet as well as to a storage medium. With broadband connections now widely available, video sending over the Internet can now deliver watchable quality broadcasting.

In fact conferences have been broadcast over the Internet for over ten years, but those first broadcasts could really only be watched by those with high-speed links such as ISDN, as broadband was not in operation at that time. The compression was also quite severe to keep the video watchable over low bandwidth lines, something that is less necessary with broadband

Early Internet conference broadcasts were often of medical or scientific conferences so that those in public service, whose employers might not be so keen to fly them around the world, could participate.

Economics of Broadcasting

As well as widely available broadband, another factor that has made it easier to broadcast conferences is the cost. Those pioneering broadcasts used proprietary software that was relatively expensive. It is now possible to record and broadcast conferences using freely available software and the biggest costs of such an operation are now the purchase of quality cameras and audio recording equipment and the bandwidth required to send the video signal out to all the people watching.

As far as the audio and video capture equipment is concerned, the conference venue may have the equipment, or it can be hired, to reduce the cost. In fact, unless you have good technical people with the relevant experience available to work on the conference with you, it is worth considering engaging a professional company who have broadcast conferences.

DIY or Broadcasting Professionals?

In-house technicians may believe that they can deliver an online conference over the Internet but broadcasting live is not something to go into without experience. Technical problems will reflect on you and the conference holder rather than the technical people. Committing to broadcasting a conference online can come back to haunt you as there are no guarantees of service delivery over the Internet and there are so many links between the conference and people watching on the Internet so it's no surprise that broadcasting is often disrupted.

If you are putting on a large, high-profile conference and you are expecting many people to watch online as well as attend in person, then getting involved with a specialist company that handles conference broadcasts and has the necessary bandwidth to call on could be a very worthwhile investment.

Post Conference Online Availability

Once the conference itself is finished, the recorded conference sessions can be placed on a website so that anyone who has an interest can look at them again. This may also help fill in gaps if there were technical difficulties, either for the end user or at the conference itself. People can watch the recorded sessions at a time that suits them.

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