Video calling has been around for a long, long time. However, it’s yet to become commonplace. There have been studies, some very recent, that suggest that people really don’t want or need it. Yet Skype reports that a substantial amount, around 40% if I recall correctly, of their call traffic involves video. Of course, events like last years volcanic excitement in Iceland highlight how valuable video can be when travel is impossible.
Beyond the more general cases I have my own reasons why video could play an important part in my working life. It happens that I travel a lot in the course of my work. The scope of my working duties is divided three ways; pre-sales demonstrations of hardware/software systems, post-sales commissioning, installations & training, and finally end-user support activity. The demonstration aspect of my travel could be reduced significantly if I were able to deliver the demonstration via online means.
As Skype has become more and more popular various other parties have tried to ride on their coat-tails, including old media companies like TV stations & broadcast networks. I know of at least one TV station that was clandestinely using Skype over broadband to “phone in” breaking news events. The station in question even went so far as to promote the fact that they were using Skype. They did so without prior permission from Skype, and were eventually asked to stop doing so by Skype’s lawyers.
TV stations have been doing “Live Remotes” for decades. Most often this involved using a vehicle equipped with microwave relay gear to send the video feed back to the station in real-time. Much effort goes into ensuring that the video signal looks good when it finally hits air. Larger TV stations or more important projects might merit the use of satellite transponder time to get the video feed back to the station via a satellite link, at considerable expense.