Columnists Features Technology

Saving costs the videoconferencing way


ZAMBIA has seen advances in inter-networking infrastructure quality and stable communication platform. The Zambia Information Communication and Technology Authority (ZICTA) has played a pivotal role in ensuring that most parts of the country, even remote areas, are now covered in one form or the other.
The abundant bandwidth used mostly for business applications and internet communication via Web browsers and emails is responsible for this wide reach. Most buildings like offices, hotels and malls have Hotspots and Wi-Fis.
One of the benefits that come with such availability of bandwidth is videoconferencing. This is a means of conducting conferences between two or more participants located in different geographical areas by using computer networks to transmit audio and video data.
Videoconferencing works more like a video telephone, where each participant has a video camera, microphone, and speakers mounted on their computers.
As participants speak to one another, their voices are transmitted over the network and delivered to the other’s speakers, and images appear in front of the video camera on the other participant’s monitors.
In Zambia this kind of technology was far-fetched as it was thought to be expensive and complicated to implement. It also lacked capacity and skill to handle it. However, this is not the case anymore.
At a presentation in Lusaka, various branches were linked to a central point. The quality of the video and audio were impressive.
Employees from different towns as far as Chipata and Solwezi were connected via videoconferencing.
The synergetic partnership was made between the video equipment service provider who had state-of-the-art equipment and the internet service provider who brought in very reliable bandwidth to enable voice and video data to be transmitted without any difficulties.
This made the event successful and with minimal and manageable operational hitches. It is gratifying to know that we have the technical ability to implement such solutions in Zambia.
With this kind of communication, it is possible to create provincial videoconference centres for government officials to minimise long distance travels for short meetings. This can also work well for ad-hoc meetings.
The massive fibre and microwave links that our ISPs and cellphone companies have installed need to help us minimise operational costs by applying such solutions.
It is commendable that a Zambian company has invested in this equipment and it is the first one to implement the solution having been in existence since 1999, and pioneering high-tech conference equipment to major conventions, workshops and conferences at all major hotels in Zambia.
Videoconferencing offers benefits like cost saving and mitigates against risks such as delays and travel fatigue.
It saves a company travel allowances, wear and tear of vehicles, accommodation bills and production time.
On their part, companies with such solutions need capacity building in line with advances in technology.
Educational institutions have to consider videoconferencing in the curriculum to enable technologists graduate with skills. This will create a culture of demand of the technology in the respective organisations of implementation.
Videoconferencing has opened doors to another dimension of doing business. This type of technology needs support to all those who care about saving time and money.
A company that offers this kind of solution should continue investing in more equipment to make sure its clients benefit from an advanced method of holding a meeting by employees in different geographical areas.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail ICT specialist.

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