H.261, H.263, H.264 La La Land

Is anyone other than me have a weird year with video protocols? It used to be that you just had to think about… is this call H.323 (IP) or H.320 (ISDN)? and connect accordingly. Now sometimes two video protocols (H.261, 263, 264) get in a call and have a fight with each other!

This year so far I’ve several strange things happening with calls with both Polycom and Tandberg units that can do H.261, H.263 and/or H.264. This morning I was troubleshooting a call with Andrea Israeli, NY and a ClicktoMeet site for Read Across America. Andrea and I have identical Polycom VSX7000’s on the same software rev and the ClicktoMeet site could call me but they couldn’t call her. Very strange. On a hunch, I suggested forcing the call down to H.261. Voila! It worked.

I feel like I’ve been sucked into 261/263/264 la la land. It’s a land where you never know if your calls will work. But it seems that forcing the call down to H.261 makes it work. Why is that???

I love the idea of H.264 working on low bandwidth sites with better quality. Another of my Read Across America connections is with a class in Alberta who called us at 128K. The quality was beautiful! Polycom People Plus Content came across great as well. I’d really like to see this work on a consistent basis. I guess we just have to weather this bump as the vendors work it out.

Crossing my fingers for 32 mostly Read Across America connections this week….

About Janine Lim

Janine Lim, PhD, currently serves as associate dean for online higher education in the School of Distance Education at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, MI. She and her team support over 200 online courses, provide training for faculty teaching online, and work with the campus infrastructure support of online learning. Her department also provides educational technology and Moodle support for faculty and students. In addition, Janine is responsible for the faculty and courses of the Consortium of Adventist Colleges and Universities. Janine has taught over 15 unique graduate educational technology classes online numerous times over the past 15 years, with some classes attracting participants from all over the world. Her undergraduate teaching includes social media courses for communication and digital media majors. Janine has served on the board of the United States Distance Learning Association since April 2015. Prior to her work at Andrews University, Janine coordinated distance education for 22 K12 school districts in southwest Michigan for 14 years. In that position, as one of the co-founders of TWICE, Michigan’s K12 Videoconferencing Organization, Janine has spearheaded popular international K12 videoconference projects such as Read Around the Planet and MysteryQuest. While still serving on the board of TWICE, she was instrumental in designing and implementing the CAPspace website for collaborative videoconference projects. Janine also served on a team of Michigan educational technology trainers providing a workshop called ATA Technology Academy. Her current online learning research interests include successful teacher behaviors, quality online discussions, and student activity patterns in self-paced courses.
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10 Responses to H.261, H.263, H.264 La La Land

  1. Andrea Israeli says:

    Today I feel I officially entered the 261/263/264 la la land too. Thanks for figuring out the 261 thing. That put a smile on all our faces since the class is really looking forward to the Read Across America videoconference. I’ll let you know how the connection worked and looked after Wednesday 3/1. I also will be connecting with some schools in England in the coming months and will let you know about those too. Meanwhile thank you for all your help and support. I love the graphic!!!

  2. Scott says:

    Really. Wow. As a lowly teacher I can’t begin to imagine the mindset that makes hardware developers all keep working on different models, hoping that theirs will at least out-draw the competitors to create profitability and at best shut down all the rest. Okay, I can imagine it–I just did.

    Janine I’m sending you a Sightspeed invite so we can try that one. It’s not peer to peer, it works nicely around most firewalls in my humble (okay, not) experience, and it’s free. Let’s test it. I’d just love for there to be a good IP alternative for the quick-and-unplanned connection between collaborators. My other contender is iVisit, by the way…

  3. Andy says:

    I have a Polycom vsx 3000 and a Polycom v500. I cannot seems to make call using h264. The datasheet says it is supported in both systems. The 3000 is running 8.0.3 and 500 is running 7.5.2. Thanks.


  4. Janine Lim says:

    Andy – I’m sorry I can’t provide any tech support. You might want to try the VTCTalk Forum.

  5. Clint Collins says:

    I hear you! We are also playing musical chairs with the H.26x Protocols here down under in Sydney, Australia! Glad to hear it is not just me!!

  6. Kevin says:

    Thanks Janine, I had discovered this about 2 hours after I posted my question, but I’m really glad you confirmed what I had discovered! I will try it out.


  7. Kevin says:

    Followup: A resolution was discovered.

    We have a Polycom VSX 7000, located in Canada, and we were having trouble connecting to/from a Polycom HDX 9002 in the UK. On the VSX 7000, we modified a preferred speed setting and we were able to get connected.

    In the following setting, we changed it from 128 to 384 and boom! It worked:

    System -> Admin Settings -> Network -> Call Preferences -> International ISDN Calls


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