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Also known as a videoconferencing bridge, a video bridge is a type of communication equipment that makes it possible to connect multiple locations into a common conference setting that provides both audio and real time visual interaction for the participants. Once considered a tool that only large corporations could afford, the costs associated with video bridging have continued to decrease as advancements in technology have made it possible to manufacture viable multi-party videoconferencing bridges that are much more affordable. In addition, those same advances have allowed the video bridge of today to provide a strong visual display that syncs perfectly with the audio portion of the meeting, rather than lagging a second or two behind.
Following the same general concept that is used with and audio conference bridge, a video bridge is equipped with a series of ports that are capable of carrying both audio and video signals received from other locations, streaming all those signals into a common point of termination. Depending on the bridge configuration, any number of communication tools may be used to transport and receive those signals. This may include streaming the audio and video over the Internet, converting those streams into a digital signal that is recognized by the bridge at the point of termination, or even the use of satellite technology to manage the video and audio hookups.
The capacity of a video bridge will vary, based on the system design and the types of signals that the bridge is capable of receiving and sending. Some models today are more versatile than the designs common in the latter part of the 20th century, in that use of those models does not require that all the locations involved use the same type of video bridge equipment in order to participate in a meeting. Typically, each location slated to participate in the videoconference will undergo a process that is referred to as site certification. This certification is simply a test run of the meeting that takes place a day or two in advance of the live event, allowing technicians at each location to connect with the bridge and make sure there are no issues in terms of the ability to view and hear the other locations with ease.
While a video bridge does cost more than the typical audio bridge, the ability to make use of real time audio and video is often preferable. Equipment of this type can be especially important to reducing the costs of travel and other expenses associated with staging high profile meetings between important parties, such as heads of state. Along with trimming travel expenses, the savings of time generated by conducting a meeting via a video bridge means attendees can get back to other essential tasks in less time, a factor that helps to increase the opportunities to maintain productivity in a number of settings.