Video and audio conferencing information

For MSU HEP video conferencing, see this page.

The older information is still available below.
This page contains information on how to configure video and audio conferencing equipment to connect either directly to another station or to the ECS ESnet service.

Protocols/Providers

There are several different solutions available depending on what is desired.

Vidyo

This is now the standard for CERN experiments. The CERN Vidyo web page is here. CERN users have a login and can create and modify meetings. Others can connect to existing meetings. You can also connect to a Vidyo meeting using H323 or SIP.

H323, ESnet

ESnet provides video, audio, and data conferencing service to all DOE facilities and universities. We care mostly about the ECS service that provides a H323 adhoc video conferences. The meeting instructions suggest that we always use a 88x number for our meetings in order to get optimum quality. You will need to register first in order to be able to connect to the gatekeeper. Note that you first need to register yourself as a person, and in a second step register your equipment.
In order to call someone up directly, simply type their IP address into the call to field in your program. There is no need to go through ESnet. For video conferences with more than 2 participants, use the ESnet service. For people who are registered with the gatekeeper you can also enter their ID number.
In order to use H323 from home or behind a firewall, you have to open ports in the firewall, see below.

SIP, sipphone, gizmo

I am using gizmo in order to make telephone calls from my computer. It is available under Windows, Mac, and Linux. This software uses the SIP protocol, which is a common standard for VOIP. It works amongst others with google talk. Note that gizmo is for audio-only connections.
The SIP protocol is more recent that H323 and is in principle also capable of video transmission. However, I haven't found client software yet that is cross-platform and supports SIP video.

EVO

EVO is the next generation of VRVS and is java-based. It is a popular meeting tool for CERN meetings. It has received a lot of attention recently, with many features that integrate video, audio, slides, and instant messaging. It also has phone bridges that make it possible to connect to a meeting by telephone. EVO now has a H323 bridge feature that allows it to connect to ESNet meetings and stand-alone H323 devices. EVO works very well even from behind firewalls and through NAT.

Not recommended:

Apple iChat

I don't know much about iChat other than that Apple users love it and that it's not available on any other platform and uses a proprietary protocol. It is able to make a point-to-point video connection to AIM users, but does not support H323 or SIP.

Skype

Skype is really popular with many people because it's so easy to set up and it is able to make connections even from behind firewalls and through network address translation. It's also available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. There are several disadvantages to skype. One is that it uses a proprietary protocol, which means you can only connect to skype users and nobody else. Another one is that it is illegal to use at Cern, and can only be used at Fermilab after configuring a personal firewall on your computer. That's because skype has a "supernode" feature where it routes other peoples conversation through your computer if you are sitting on a high-bandwidth network.

Equipment/Software/Setup

Below you will find software solutions for Mac, Windows, and Linux and how to configure them. With any of these, try to connect to the echo tests before trying a real connection. For ESnet, there is the copy bird at h323:00111092058@198.129.252.173 (not always available). Alternatively, you can test sound only at h323.voxgratia.org (66.135.35.44).
For SIP, contact the echo testing system at echo@sipphone.com.

Mac

The XMeeting product is free software that can do H323 and SIP. Here's how to set it up:
In the network menu: H.323 menu: SIP menu: Account menu: An older version of it is called OhPhoneX and is the solution for Mac's running OsX 10.3 or older. It should be relatively straightforward to get set up.
There are several reports on the web that at least ohphonex works fine with ESnet, but I have not found any reports about using SIP.

Linux

Windows

More information

Some of the information here is taken from my own experience, but most of it has been collected from various web pages: