Buying Vs Renting a Video Conference System


Well, we all know that Video Conference systems save a lot of time, cost and efforts by allowing us to see and talk to people over distant location(s). But have you ever considered renting a Video Conference system? In this article, let us look at the pros and cons of renting a video conference system (Vs) buying it.

First things first: What do you need to set up a Video Conference between two sites?

1. Video Conferencing System (CODEC) – This is the heart of the Video Conferencing system and all the connections to the input, output devices and external connectivity lines terminate here. The CODEC comes attached with a Camera (with PTZ functions) as well as mic(s) and all required cables. The VC CODEC can support HD, Multi-site Video Conferencing, Dual Monitors, Live Streaming of Computer Presentations, Integration with smart boards etc, but the features vary according to the model.

2. Display Device(s) – The Video Conferencing system doesn’t itself come with a display device (although some personal and specialized systems do) and you need to connect it to display devices like CRT TV, LCD TV, LCD monitors, Plasma Display Terminals, LCD Projectors etc. If the VC system is HD enabled, then the display device also needs to be HD enabled in order to have a High Definition experience.

3. Bandwidth/ Connectivity – You need some sort of connectivity at all the locations between which you want to conduct a video Conference. Earlier, ISDN lInes/ PRI lines (digital telephone lines) used to be a popular connectivity method, but of late, since most of the companies have some sort of IP Network Connectivity at all their branches (Internet Leased Lines, Managed Leased Lines, MPLS VPN Connectivity, IPLC etc), the preferred mode of connectivity has changed to WAN connectivity over IP Networks. And yes, you can only talk from a ISDN based VC system to another ISDN based VC system (OR) IP based VC system to another IP based VC system – So, you need to decide between ISDN and IP Network connectivity before hand.

In case you want to read a more comprehensive article with architecture diagram about Video Conferencing, click here.

Advantages of renting a Video Conferencing System:

  1. If, in your company, you have a requirement for conducting a video conferencing sessions very rarely (say twice or three times a year), its better to rent the system, as the cost for rentals are quite less when compared to buying the whole system. Even an entry level (group) Video Conferencing system would cost you around Two Lakh Rupees INR ( USD 4500) approx. per site including a basic display unit with in-built speakers.
  2. The above cost is for conducting one-to-one video conferencing between any two locations. But practically, you may want to talk to one location now, but another location later on. That means either buying the VC equipment at all the locations, which would make it very costly or transporting them between the different locations as per the need – This transportation could turn out taking more time, resources and money. Renting a VC system makes it simpler as the shifting/ setting up works along with support personnel for the same is taken care by the rental agency.
  3. You may even want to do a multi-conferencing between 3-4 locations, and then discover that the Video Conference system doesn’t have the Multi-site license and get a shock when you come to know that the entry level system cannot be upgraded to support multi-conference and you need to buy another VC system with multi-conferencing abilities which costs substantially higher than the entry level VC system! Renting out the Video conferencing system allows you to rent basic system at times and multi-conference systems at times, as per your requirements.
  4. Technology keeps upgrading at a rapid pace: Your CEO has heard about the High Definition Video Conferencing system and wants his upcoming Video Conferencing address to the different branches to be conducted on the High Definition platform. You cannot change all the older VC systems just to support HD! Renting out, will give you the flexibility to choose between the Standard Definition models for project team conference and the High Definition models for CEO addresses.
  5. High Definition (HD) Video Conferencing needs HD supported monitors and other accessories. It has a separate interface and cables and doesn’t work on a normal CRT based TV. Rental agencies normally rent the various display devices/ speakers as well, and allow you to select between HD and SD models.
  6. You have a client who has his Video Conferencing system connected on ISDN and wants to have a VC session with the project members. But your VC system is connected on the Internet Leased Lines (IP Networks) and you find out that they are IP Only and cannot be upgraded to support ISDN. Even if they can, the ISDN/PRI modules would cost you a substantial amount. Renting a VC system lets you choose between ISDN or IP based VC system.
  7. You may want to conduct video conference session for a particular event (that is being conducted in a public location – say a hotel). But each event has unique requirements and the events are always for short durations (two to three days). In scenarios like this,  its better to hire the appropriate video conference system – perhaps even the hotel might be having the Video Conferencing rental facility! Well, actually even bandwidth (Internet Leased Lines etc) can be established in a make-shift location temporarily!

Advantages of buying a Video Conferencing system:

  1. If there are conduct frequent video conferencing sessions to be conducted in your company and you have unlimited bandwidth, buying a video conferencing system might turn out more cost effective on the long run.
  2. People would use the video conferencing system more frequently if it is always there and available for them than formulating a policy that the cost of video conferencing rentals needs to be borne by individual departments.
  3. If your team wants to conduct a video conference suddenly, it is as easy as switching on the system and dialing out the IP address if you own the video conference systems.
  4. What if the video conference rental agency has run out of VC systems on the day you want to book one? What if they do not deliver the material on time? What if they are not able to establish the call on time? These are all the questions that needs to be addressed before hand and hence an evaluation and selection of the video conference rental agency plays a key role here.
  5. There are certain specialized applications with specialized requirements – Like integrating your smart board to the video conference system, for example. For such complicated applications, its better to have your own systems and plan your own integration/ implementation as the rental agencies may not have the skills or the materials required for the same.
  6. Personal video conference sessions (one person in one location to another person in same location or another location) over the network has become very easy with software based personal video conferencing devices. Its better to buy them as they are quite inexpensive and use PC’s, Webcam’s, headsets and other commonly available infrastructure.

Video Conferencing Rental In India: If you live in India and you want to rent  Video Conference systems, please use the contact form to let us know of your requirements so that we can refer the same to our friends who are in the Video Conference rental business in India. But the availability of this rental service depends on which cities in India you may want the Video Conference systems for rental, and hence do mention the locations while submitting your information in the contact form.

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