We have previously released white papers focusing on the value of smartphones, Wi-Fi and mobile video conferencing for hazardous areas. You need to consider mobile devices, wireless networks, mobile video conferencing and infrastructure as a complete solution. Without networks, your mobile video devices has limited value. This white paper will focus on how it all ties together, the infrastructure you need for a successful deployment of mobile video conferencing systems and mobile devices. You have heard buzzwords such as VMRs (Virtual Meeting Rooms), SIP, Cloud. We want to show explain what this means in practice. The questions we would like to answer are: What type of network is needed? How to configure the network and the devices to ensure ease of use and high quality? And what about the security aspect? What hardware and software do I need additionally? This article is therefore subdivided into sections that include, Wi-Fi, VMRs, Video Media protocols, security and headsets. We will also give recommendations on how to design your setup.
Wi-Fi for hazardous areas
Mobile Video Conferencing relies on high quality Wi-Fi networks to allow the user to move freely around the premises and achieve maximum utilization. Since mobile video conferencing often is used for troubleshooting and service sessions, the network should be able to reach all potential problem areas. The latest 802.11abgn standard allows for better coverage, higher bandwidth and security. Controller based, smart mesh networks also allow for easier roaming between access points, enabling better mobility. In short, you need a network which supports:
- 802.11g or newer
- MiMo antennas
- Dual band (2,4 Ghz and 5 Ghz)
- Minimum 2 mbit
- Roaming between access points
- Multi Channel
We have a separate Wi-Fi for hazardous areas white paper covering this topic in detail.
The Wi-Fi needs to connect to a high speed network in order to accommodate for high quality video. We recommend fiber, since it has symmetrical up and down bandwidth. Fiber networks are also future proof, since they can more easily accommodate for the demands of the future. Radio link, 3G, 4G and even satellite connections can also be used, but the limitation is often bandwidth and availability of the network. Regardless of the backbone, or internet connection, we recommend at least 2 Mbit up and down for using high quality video on mobile devices. Read more about minimum bandwidth requirements for high quality video conferencing.
SIP vs. H.323 vs. proprietary solutions
These protocols are negotiating a video call, by handshaking between the devices and making sure that they find a common or minimum common ground of codecs, transport layers and media to send between each others. The same is done by both Skype and Lync, but since they only call between each others users in their own network, they typically has a lot less use cases to deal with, since the variations of media, operating systems and device types are limited. They have standardized on a set of features which each product offers, and primarily has to make sure that the software versions are compatible, and that the devices support sufficient bandwidth. For high quality, secure and encrypted video conferencing for enterprises, it is SIP and H.323, which are the most common protocols. The video media is typically H.264 but we already now starting to see support for H.265.
We prefer SIP (Session initiation protocol), since it is made for IP and Internet based communication (IETF) while H.323 comes from ITU and is clearly an add-on to old ISDN and phone based networks. SIP is media agnostic, and more open, it allows for interoperability between devices from many different manufacturers. SIP focuses on simplicity, independent of transport layer, network scalability, extensibility and integration. Also, SIP is more readable and it is easier to develop supporting software and debug call logs.
To place a call, you need to be registered on a SIP or H.323 server. The SIP server is a switchboard that connects SIP calls and routes it through a network, ensuring that the call is placed to the right endpoint. It also contains presence data, allowing you to know if your device is online, available or busy in another call. You need to configure the devices SIP settings before you can get started with mobile video. This can be done easily and quickly through Collaboration X. BARTEC PIXAVI has our own SIP registrar solution which you can use, alternatively you can configure yourself it with a TMS or similar. When this is finished, you can see in the SIPIDO app if you are connected by sliding to the right and see if it says “Online” under the “Status” menu.
Regardless of the protocol your device and network is configured to, you can still use a VMR (virtual meeting room) which automatically ensures that all devices and protocols can talk to each other. A VMR makes it a lot easier to use and configure a video conference system. It allows multiple protocols, systems and technologies to meet, without the worry of making sure that you have interoperable video conferencing devices. Calling from Lync or Skype for Business to a SIP device is made possible by a VMR. Especially for external calls, and calls to devices on other networks, a VMR is the answer to a hassle free deployment. In summary, a VMR can often completely resolve all your network, interoperability and configuration options, more about this next.
Meeting Rooms (VMRs and MCUs)
Traditional video conferencing required calling between two compatible endpoints, each sending the same type of media, or at least a type of media that both endpoints could decode. The media stream was some times encrypted, some times encoded and often out of sync. The video or audio was often blocked by firewalls. The need for a central hub, which could negotiate and handle the media, emerged. MCU’s (multipoint control units) was the solution of the 2000s. The MCU was a dedicated video server that could handle many types of media from many sources and ensure that all endpoints got all the video and audio in a format that they could handle. MCUs opened up for multi party calls, having as many as 32 or more participants (endpoints) in a call. Since everyone was calling out and always received a known media stream back, it resolved many of the firewall issues, which typically blocked unknown media coming into the network. It also reduces the strain on the network, which opened up for better experiences.
The problem with these devices was that they were expensive and often proprietary. The advent of faster processors and high speed networks opened up an opportunity to make these MCU’s in software which can run on any server, even servers which were not optimized for video. This reduced costs dramatically, and today we see these solutions as the future of video conferencing for sessions of more than 2 participants.
Technology providers for VaaS (Video as a Service), SIP registration and VMRs include:
- Acano (now a part of Cisco)
Technology from the above mentioned suppliers is available from most video conferencing VARs (Value added resellers) or integrators. Adding BARTEC PIXAVI mobile devices to an existing video conferencing deployment is easily available, since we support industry standards. Every organization wanting to deploy more then one mobile telepresence unit, or having more then one office wanting to connect to it should embrace this technology since it is flexible, safe and easy to use. You only need to configure one number, which everyone calls into, bypassing many configuration and interoperability issues. For Orbit X, this is the ideal solution since you can configure the VMR to be the “predefined number” the Orbit X dials into, or you can set the Orbit X to “auto answer” and call it from the meeting room.
Cloud vs. Hosted (on premise)
The VMRs needs to be hosted somewhere. Many organizations prefer cloud since there is no maintenance, no investment and more scalability in a cloud solution. With today’s security and encryption, the data and communication is also safe and secure. The monthly SaaS cost is often a far lower TCO (Total cost of ownership) compared with having something on premise. A cloud provider of for example VMRs are also constantly updating software, resolving bugs and ensuring that the quality is improving for each software version. Providers offer both public and private clouds. For SMEs the public cloud is often the best option, while larger clients typically negotiate private cloud solutions. Providers also offer different levels of support that cater to each individual customers needs. BARTEC PIXAVI has a long experience with cloud solutions, and we cooperate with partners offering such solutions. We recommend public cloud solutions to our customers and private cloud solutions to companies with more stringent security requirements. We can also do on-premise installation of our cloud services, SIPIDO and Collaboration X. Contact us for more information.
WebRTC (Web Real Time Communication) has emerged as a new and exciting technology, enabling users to get high quality video, directly in their browser. To date, only Chrome and Firefox has support for it, but the community is growing. WebRTC does not require any installation. However, in some cases you need to add a plugin or extension to your browser to ensure that all the functionality is in place. WebRTC is easy to use (you only need a browser and a link or login), the video and audio quality is good (some providers offer 1080p), security is enforced and data is encrypted.It is available for many devices and improved support for more advanced features such as screen sharing will be added by several browsers soon. More info about WebRTC here. To get SIP interoperability with WebRTC, you use a VMR which supports both technologies.
Typical network issues
Video conferencing relies on the network which carries the video and audio. The network you use, needs to have SIP ports and RTP ports open for two way traffic for the call to be started. If you are using Wi-Fi tethering or a Wi-Fi modem from a mobile network operator, the SIP ports are often blocked. We have also seen that some ISPs are also blocking these ports. Check with your provider if the SIP ports 5060 and 5061, RTP/RTCP ports 7050-7053 are open or not. An alternative situation is where SIP registration works, but you cannot place a call. The cause could be that some firewalls allow audio, but not video.
If you have a poor network, the overall quality is reduced. Even the best video conferencing system will suffer when the network conditions are poor. Typical problems include pixellation, packet loss, jitter and latency. Also, if you are demoing or testing in an office environment, in a city or in an office park, there will likely be a lot of Wi-Fi networks and therefore a lot of interference and noise. The quality of the call can therefore some times be disappointing. Often, the quality is much better in the evening or early morning, when the networks are not as heavily utilized by other devices. Luckily, most of the remote mobile video installations are done in remote places where these problems are minimal. All of these problems are Wi-Fi and network related, some best practices include:
- Use a modern access point (see first chapter)
- Make sure you are connected to the nearest and most powerful Wi-Fi access point
- Having a dedicated Wi-Fi network for mobile video (no other mobile devices or computers connected)
- Using 5 Ghz network when available
- Reduce resolution and frame rate to test the network capacity
- Move the mobile device slowly, avoid sudden movements
We recommend using a Bluetooth EX Zone 1 headsets with our devices. You will then be able to enjoy both increased mobility and hands free operation. Headsets are available in both head or helmet mounted ear muff versions, not unlike the ones used for tetra-UHF communication. These headsets connect like “normal” headsets or car bluetooth sound systems.You need to set the headset to discoverable and locate them in the phones bluetooth settings menu. Once connected it will be paired and you can use the headsets in both video and audio calls. We recommend headsets from Sensear and 3M / Peltor. Both of these have been tested with our devices. You connect them using the bluetooth settings menu (Impact X and Gravity X) and using the Orbit X app (Orbit X).
State of the art deployment
A state of the art mobile video conferencing deployment consists of a both a modern, well designed Wi-Fi network, high speed fiber optic broadband connection, mobile devices from BARTEC PIXAVI, and a VMR solution from an experienced supplier. With this setup, you can access your mobile assets from anywhere. Since both the Wi-Fi network, the VMR and the mobile device supports SIP and WebRTC, you can easily connect to them to both dedicated video conferencing system and rooms, control panels, tablets, notebooks and desktops. Use Sensear or Peltor bluetooth EX headsets and accessories from BARTEC PIXAVI, as well as support and maintenance, giving you an included consulting and assistance with your deployment. If you have Cisco, Polycom, Sony or LifeSize video conferencing systems, you can get the best quality experience by allowing 1080p, 30 FPS video stream directly to the big screen. We recommend the following dedicated video conferencing endpoint providers:
- Tandberg (now Cisco)
We have an interoperability lab in our office, ensuring compatibility with the most used endpoints and MCUs from the above mentioned brands. BARTEC PIXAVI devices support SIP and it can therefore be used with Cisco TMS (limited SIP functionality). If you have a question about your deployment, feel free to contact us!
From an IT perspective, you want to maintain a high level of security, availability and flexibility of the mobile devices. A video management system such as Collaboration X ensures that all devices are configured correctly, that necessary security policies are in place. Also, if a device is lost, you can delete all the contents remotely. You can download images and videos taken with the devices remotely. In short, you can easily configure and manage all the devices from one central location. Using Collaboration X will reduce the need for IT support and free up time for both users and IT managers! Check out the solution for your own devices at www.collaboration-x.net!
We have tested and deployed a wide range of solutions, service providers and technologies. We recommend solutions from the following providers.
|Software and services||Hardware|
Since technology is developing rapidly, it is important to choose the technology, to be deployed in hazardous areas, wisely. You need to be on an updated and modern operating system, so to gain access to a wider range of security and software features. If not, your investment could become obsolete and a security risk within just 6 months. Having a future-proof oriented product would be greatly beneficial. Many of today’s mobile devices are running legacy software, that has long since been discontinued, by the original developer. All of which causes a significant security risk.Therefore, BARTEC PIXAVI strives towards being future proof. The software and hardware are designed to meet tomorrows demands.We are continuously improving our products to ensure that both security aspects and user experience is the best. By keeping track of future developments in technology and in the industry it is possible to foresee what is ahead. Learning what our customers feel and think regarding the future, is also critical for us. By doing so, it ensures an easy and safe roll out of BARTEC PIXAVI mobile devices in a network. Learn more about our products or contact us if you want a demonstration!