Video Conferencing vs. Skype video calling

As a visual communication specialist we regularly come up against the challenge of businesses wanting to use Skype as their main video conferencing platform.

“Skype does everything I need it to, AND IT’S FREE! Why would I pay for video conferencing?”

We often get this response when discussing how our video solutions can improve communication and collaboration within an organisation.

Video conferencing vs skype

So, why should your business adopt corporate video conferencing instead of using Skype?

First of all we do not dislike Skype. We believe it is a great consumer solution for families and friends to stay in touch.

However, Skype only works with Skype!

It uses it’s own proprietary standard (communication language). Standards based video conferencing solutions communicate using a different language, the H.323 communication protocol. The Lifesize Passport is the only video conferencing endpoint that allows for point-to-point video calls through it’s hardware.

In short, Skype video calling can only take place between Skype users. It offers poor resolution, uses high amounts of bandwidth, and offers no support or management.

Listed below are the features of corporate video conferencing solutions vs equivalent features of Skype.
Interoperability
Corporate – Call any standards based video conferencing system – room based, desktop and mobile solutions.

Skype – Skype can only call other Skype users.
Security
Corporate – Supported video conferencing infrastructure ensure secure networks remain secure.

Skype – Uses a web protocol which is deemed inappropriate to secure networks, i.e. government networks.

Camera
Corporate – A room based video conferencing solution uses a high quality pan-tilt-zoom camera (PTZ Camera). This is capable of remote directional and zoom control.

Skype – Does not have the ability to zoom and focus, meaning in a multi-point call the participant speaking will only occupy a small part of your screen.

Microphones
Coporate – Clear audio from multiple microphones so all participants can be heard clearly.

Skype – Microphone is integrated into the camera resulting in regular echoing. Background noise disrupts audio quality.

Echo Cancellation
Corporate – High quality, echo cancellation to prevent echo caused by microphones and speakers.

Skype – The integrated microphone and display speakers are positioned too close to one another, resulting in regular echoing.

Packet Loss
Corporate – Integrated packet loss functionality significantly reduces still and broken images, meaning a high quality viewing experience.

Skype – Suffers with regular packet loss and latency, meaning a low quality, distorted viewing experience.

Resolution
Corporate – High definition video at 1280 x 720 (720p), or 1980 x 1080 (1080p)

Skype – A resolution of 320×240, which can look reasonable on a small screen in a small Skype window.

Bandwidth
Corporate – From 128Kbps required for multi-party call

Skype – Requires 4mb for a 5-way multi-site call

Participants
Corporate – Unlimited. Up to 12 recommended for quality viewing.

Skype – Up to ten. Only 4 recommended.

Scalability
Corporate – Multipoint Conference Units (MCU) offer scalability and bandwidth management to ensure the optimal viewing experience in multi-party calls.

Skype – Limited scalability and management. Multi-party calls significantly increase bandwidth usage.

Usage
Corporate – Unlimited

Skype – Limited to up to 100 hours per month for multi-party calling

Management and Control
Corporate – Full control and management of bandwidths, scheduling, software updates and reporting.

Skype – No control over network infrastructure and no support helpdesk to contact

Advanced Features
Corporate – Video streaming, recording and annotating

Skype – No advanced features