Video conferencing?

Philip Greenspun's Homepage : Philip Greenspun's Homepage Discussion Forums : Ask Philip : One Thread
Notify me of new responses
What developments in video conferencing do you expect, and when?

-- Claudio Gatti, December 22, 1996


I got my present email address ("") in 1976. Email was reliable, fast, practical, and about 10 years old at that point. But there weren't too many people to whom one could write. I guess I could install video conference hardware on my computers at home and at work but none of my friends have it so I'd never talk to anyone.

I suppose video conferencing will reach some sort of critical mass the way email did in the early 1990s and the Web did in 1994. Then we'll need a serious technical development: smarter routers.

I have an ISDN line at home, 128 Kbits/second. That's barely enough to support one video stream. My friend Peter has a 10 Mbit connection from his cable TV company. Suppose we're involved in a 6-way video conference. The Internet backbone routers should figure out that "this Greenspun guy is on a wimpy ISDN connection; we'll throw out most of the data right here before doing our best to combine the most relevant bits to fit into a single 128 Kbit stream." Then they should say "but Peter is on a 10 Mbit/second connection so we can feed him all six streams and let his computer sort them out."

-- Philip Greenspun, December 22, 1996