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Telecommunications and Networks-Benefiting from Video Conferencing – 2


I. Executive Summary……………………………………………………………3

II. Definition/History of Video Conferencing…………………………………….3

III. Background of Amtrak ………………………………………………………..4

IV. Discussion of Current Business Issues .............................................................4

V. Proposed Solution …………………………………………………………….6

VI. Recommendations for the Executive Committee ...............................................6

VII. Attachments ………………………………………………………………….11

VIII. References …………………………………………………………………...13

Telecommunications and Networks-Benefiting from Video Conferencing – 3
I. Executive Summary This research paper expounds on telecommunications and networks on how a company can benefit from using video conferencing. This paper also discusses Amtrak’s implementation of video conferencing with the purpose of saving on company wide business travel. This paper also communicates the pros and some cons of video conferencing video conferencing. Lastly, this paper outlines recommendations on how effective it would be for Amtrak to implement video conferencing and how it will benefit assist the company’s short and long-term goals in meeting their strategic goals and objectives.
II. Definition/History of Video Conferencing Definition “Video conferencing is described as a real-time video session between two or more users that reside in two or more locations. While vide videoconferencing supports several end points communicating, the terms “video call” and “video chat” generally mean one-on-one.” ( The very first videoconferencing was done with traditional analog TV and satellites. In the early 1980s, in house room systems became popular after Compression Labs pioneered digitized video systems that were highly compressed. Video is delivered in various resolutions and frame rates over digital lines starting at 128 Kbps and going to multi-megabits per second. Major vendors in the field are Polycom (, TANDBERG (, RADVISION ( and VTEL (

Telecommunications and Networks-Benefiting from Video Conferencing – 4


Room Systems – The Beginning

“Videoconferencing is also described as the conduct of a videoconference also known as video-teleconference by a set of telecommunication technologies which allow two or more locations to interact via two-way video and audio transmission simultaneously. It has also been called ‘visual collaboration’ and is a type of group-ware.” ( “Videoconferencing differs from videophone calls in that it's designed to serve a conference rather than individuals. It is an intermediate form of video telephony, first deployed commercially by AT&T during the early 1970s using picture phone technology.” ( )

Telecommunications and Networks-Benefiting from Video Conferencing - 5 [pic]

On the Desktop

The ability to transmit video as well as audio has made online meetings between two corporations a very real and effective possibility, in some cases, eliminating the necessity of travel. This in turn reduces costs and optimizes time management.

Telecommunications and Networks-Benefiting from Video Conferencing – 6

History “The beginning stages of video conferencing technology which were plagued by insurmountable obstacles. Early video conferencing systems were prohibitively expensive. In 1982, as mentioned above regarding compression labs. These Compression Lab systems carried a price tag of $250,000 and up to a $1,000 per hour. The 1990’s saw technical advances in the internet protocol (IP) and video compression technologies that allowed video conferencing to become computer based. These technological advancements diminished costs dramatically, which allowed for it to be more easily adopted by the customer market.” ( “Video conferencing has been around for more than forty years. It was introduced in the 1960’s and video conferencing has become a commonplace throughout most industries, the government, the military and even many schools around the world. Its conception and evolution has modernize a new age in telecommunications, helping the world become that much smaller and bringing people that much closer to total globalization. With a video conferencing system, people have audio and visual communication capabilities and can communicate with anyone in the world who has the same equipment. Today’s businesses have learned that a video conferencing system is the next best thing in saving hundreds of thousands in a large size company to thousands in a small to mid size company.” (

Telecommunications and Networks-Benefiting from Video Conferencing – 7

“The system required vast resources that were capable of tripping 15 amp circuit breakers. It was the only working video conferencing system available until PictureTel introduced their VC offering in 1986 and in just four years time the price had dropped dramatically at $80,000 with a $100 per hour line fee.” ( “The 1990s saw the advancement and development of video conferencing systems due to many factors, including technical advances in Internet Protocol (IP) and also more efficient video compression technologies were developed that would permit desktop or PC-based videoconferencing. In 1991, IBM introduced the first PC-based video conferencing system, named PicTel. Although it was a black and white system that was very inexpensive, costing only $30 per line, per hour, the system itself cost $20,000. Not much later in 1991, DARTnet made video conferencing history by successfully connecting a transcontinental IP network consisting of more than 12 research sites in the U.S. and the U.K. using T1 trunks. DARTnet, now known as the CAIRN system, still exists today and connects dozens of institutions.” ( “It wasn't long after that VC started infiltrating the masses through free services and software, such as NetMeeting, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger, to name a few. While the video quality was poor at best, the price was right and slowly it started to be adopted by the consumer market. It was now only a matter of time before video conferencing made its way to corporate desktops around the world.” (

Telecommunications and Networks-Benefiting from Video Conferencing – 8

III. BACKGROUND OF AMTRAK The National Railroad Passenger Corporation is a government owned corporation doing business as Amtrak. All of its company preferred stock is owned by the U.S. federal government. Amtrak employs nearly 19,000 people. It operates passenger service on 21,000 miles (34,000 km) of track primarily owned by freight railroads connecting 500 destinations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces. During the 1940s the passenger train began fighting a battle against the airplane and private automobile. By the 1960s the passenger train was rarely considered as a means of travel. Schedules were erratic, trains were run down, and more often than not the journey was a miserable experience. Then, in October, 1970, in an attempt to revive passenger rail service, congress and President Richard Nixon created and congress passed the Rail Passenger Service Act. That Act created Amtrak, a private company which, on May 1, 1971 began managing a nation-wide rail system dedicated to passenger service. The Chiefs, the Limiteds, the Zephyrs. They were more than passenger trains. These passenger cars surrounded us with impeccable comfort and tantalized our palates with elegant dining fare as they whisked into a world of romance and mystique.

Telecommunications and Networks-Benefiting from Video Conferencing – 9

In 1999, Amtrak introduced a new high speed rail service called the Acela which operates on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) in the Northeast part of the United States between Washington, D.C., Boston via Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. Acela Express trains are the only true high-speed trains in North America; the highest speed they attain is 150 mph (240 km/h), though they average less than half of that. The Acela has become popular with business travelers.


In the early 1980s, videoconferencing emerged with room systems like this earlier unit from TANDBERG. Today, using flat panels instead of CRTs, similar systems are commonly used for small and large business groups. (Image courtesy of TANDBERG,

Desktop videoconferencing has become more widely used since the universal adoption of IP protocols in the late 1990s. Polycom's PVX software turns a regular PC into a videoconferencing system. (Image courtesy of Polycom, Inc.,

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