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Free Video Bandwidth via Unified Communications

Got your attention? If so, you share the concerns of many of our enterprise clients who are cautious about rolling out video to their desktop and mobile users because of the bandwidth demands which video could place on their networks.

Their major concerns are performance and costs with questions like these: What if people start using video and flood the network with traffic, impacting on other applications and communications? What if bandwidth grows so much that major unplanned upgrades and costs are required for network equipment expansion and for increases in Internet connections or MPLS capacities?

Good news! UC offers a solution!

The solution is to change the traffic mix before or during your roll-out of desktop video capabilities. Your users will be happy to help with this, too, since this is a very logical process that increases, not decreases, user convenience and productivity. In addition, especially in cost conscious enterprises, the users will know they are saving the enterprise money and improving workflows, service levels and competitiveness.

Here are the four straightforward steps to free video bandwidth:

1. Eliminate portions of real-time voice communications using Presence and Instant Messaging. In almost all cases, when presence and IM are rolled out with appropriate training and change leadership support, voice traffic will decline by 30% to 50%. This happens because calls are no longer being made to people who are not available (presence) and because many calls are better as a short IM chat. Voice mail and calls to retrieve voice mail decline to nearly nothing for internal communications among those with Presence indications. 2. Eliminate needless voice (real-time) communications. Even after step 1, the remaining voice calls can be reviewed for possible elimination. There are dozens of UC case studies showing how to get information to the point of need with a web page, an e-mail inquiry, or an Instant Messaging "bot" (just as cell phone texting can now be used to get the weather, flight status, and so much more) rather than a voice call. Even after step 1, you may still be able to reduce voice traffic by another 10% or more.

3. Set bandwidth limits on the desktop and mobile video clients. Many desktop video clients can be administered to provide peer-to-peer video at 128 kbps (be sure to check this requirement when you buy). Sure, the video vendors are all saying that every desktop should be HD (up to 400 kbps) or some form of "telepresence" (up to 1,200 kpbs or more), but that is not necessary for most video calling within the enterprise and with suppliers and partners. Bandwidth controls are also essential as video usage increases on mobile endpoints. When higher resolution is needed for important negotiations, it is possible to use video conferencing rooms or to grant permission for higher desktop bandwidth for selected roles such as execs and sales.

4. Use the newly available real-time bandwidth to support desktop video where and when needed. Step 1 and step 2 have freed up 40% to 60% of your voice traffic capacity. Step 3 controls video bandwidth to 128 kbps, which is only twice the bandwidth (64 kpbs) of a voice call using TDM/T-1 circuits or using G.711 Internet Telephony. Thus, if you have cut the voice calling traffic by 50%, you could convert all the remaining calls to video with no new bandwidth. But you'll do better than that, since most users don't want video for every call, only for certain types of interactions.

Hey, now you've got video on your desktops and mobile devices without buying an entirely new network. Of course, your enterprise's case will vary from the above, but in the end this is a mathematical, predictable, and manageable model for applying UC to free up bandwidth for video.

Of course, it is still important to pay attention to security, call admission control, quality of service, and usage monitoring for the real-time video traffic just like you have done for voice all along.

For more on how Unified Communications can transform enterprise communications with far less cost and far more benefit than just the replacement of an old PBX with a new IP PBX, please join me at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2012 for both "Implementation Options for Unified Communications" on March 26 and "RFP: UC Without Buying a New PBX" on March 28. Hope to see you there!