The H.323 standard provides a foundation for audio, video, and data communications across IP-based networks, including the Internet. By complying with H.323, multimedia products and applications from multiple vendors can interoperate, allowing users to communicate without concern for compatibility. H.323 will be the keystone for LAN-based products for consumer, business, entertainment, and professional applications.
H.323 is an umbrella recommendation from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that sets standards for multimedia communications over Local Area Networks (LANs) that do not provide a guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS). These networks dominate today's corporate desktops and include packet-switched TCP/IP and IPX over Ethernet, Fast Ethernet and Token Ring network technologies. Therefore, the H.323 standards are important building blocks for a broad new range of collaborative, LAN-based applications for multimedia communications.
The H.323 specification was approved in 1996 by the ITU's Study Group 16. Version 2 was approved in January 1998. The standard is broad in scope and includes both stand-alone devices and embedded personal computer technology as well as point-to-point and multipoint conferences. H.323 also addresses call control, multimedia management, and bandwidth management as well as interfaces between LANs and other networks.
H.323 is part of a larger series of communications standards that enable videoconferencing across a range of networks. Known as H.32X, this series includes H.320 and H.324, which address ISDN and PSTN communications, respectively.
IMPORTANCE OF H.323
The H.323 Recommendation is comprehensive, yet flexible, and can be applied to voice-only handsets and full multimedia video-conferencing stations, among others. H.323 applications are set to grow into the mainstream market for several reasons.
" H.323 sets multimedia standards for the existing infrastructure (i.e. IP-based networks). Designed to compensate for the effect of highly variable LAN latency, H.323 allows customers to use multimedia applications without changing their network infrastructure.
" IP LANs are becoming more powerful. Ethernet bandwidth is migrating from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps, and Gigabit Ethernet is making headway into the market.
" By providing device-to-device, application-to-application, and vendor-to-vendor interoperability, H.323 allows customer products to interoperate with other H.323-compliant products.
" PCs are becoming more powerful multimedia platforms due to faster processors, enhanced instruction sets, and powerful multimedia accelerator chips.
" H.323 provides standards for interoperability between LANs and other networks.
" Network loading can be managed. With H.323, the network manager can restrict the amount of network bandwidth available for conferencing. Multicast support also reduces bandwidth requirements.
" H.323 has the support of many computing and communications companies and organizations, including Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, and IBM. The efforts of these companies will generate a higher level of awareness in the market.