Assessing LAN-based Videoconferencing Technologies

November 1997 - December 1998

The people

The project was completed with the help of the following staff at UCL:
John Andrews, Roy Bennett, Julian Chesterfield, Nadia Kausar, Peter Kirstein, Piers O'Hanlon and Anna Watson.

We also acknowledge the help and support of Syngen Brown , Project Manager, UKERNA.

The project

ALAVIT was a project to provide a series of reports to facilitate the widespread deployment of LAN-based videoconferencing and its interfaces with WAN facilities. The current JANET videoconferencing strategy recognises that the future use of videoconferencing is likely to involve a variety of standards and technologies and therefore requires that videoconferencing services be as seamless and pervasive as is practical. This is seen to require the appropriate use of gatewaying or other measures to ensure the interworking and integration of heterogeneous technologies.

The aims of the project were to:

ALAVIT began with two surveys:

The survey of products included the Mbone tools shrinkwrapped in the SHRIMP project, the H.323 tools developed in the ITU-T community, which were be the subject of most of our efforts, and other tools such as CU-SeeMe. The survey was done by web search, by direct request to major software suppliers and trade associations and by enquiry of relevant special interest groups. Products were categorised into groups braodly in line with the ITU standards classifications:

We also reported on their standards compliance - IETF standards compliant, ITU-T standards compliant or proprietary. The results of these surveys have been published as D1 below.

The next stage of the project was the testing of an agreed subset of the products identified in the survey. The results of this testing was reported in D2 below. Products were selected for testing to give a representative review of the available range subject to their availablility for testing. A similar activity evaluated the integration products which address the interaction between H.320 tools using native ISDN and H.323 tools. The report contains both technical statistics and observations of users, which address bandwidth utilisation on the LAN and quality of service as perceived by the user. It also discusses related activities such as the use of the products in linking LAN-based conferencing to the wider area - campus, metropolitan and wide area networks, including ISDN.

The results were used also to make specific proposals to UKERNA on the deployment of gateways in the backbone network.


Deliverables are available from the UKERNA web site for the project.

Last updated 22 March 1999 by to whom all enquiries should be addressed.