Before going in to the difference between Skype and video conference call or equipment, we will look what is Skype in brief?
Skype is an interesting and useful personal application. This application uses peer to peer technology to make and receive calls. Skype is one of the very few that seems to work without issue behind both a firewall and NAT.
With the exception of logon servers, Skype has no central server to maintain the network. Instead, Skype uses peer to peer technology to decentralize the network and to help ensure a very high up time percentage.
Once you log in to Skype, your system becomes part of the network itself helping to decentralize the load of routing phone calls.
This also means that your computer will be used as a node so a bit of your bandwidth and CPU will be borrowed to help the rest of the Skype network, even if you’re not in a phone call.
There are two types of machines in the Skype network – ordinary host (Skype Client) and Super Node (SN). An ordinary host is the computer of a regular user who has the application installed and connects to the network in order to communicate with other users.
The Super Nodes are the end-point of ordinary hosts in the network. In other words, ordinary hosts connect to the Super Nodes. Any computer with a public IP and proper hardware configuration can be a SN.
An ordinary host must connect to a super node and must register itself with the Skype login server for a successful login.
The Skype login server is the only central unit in the whole network. It stores the usernames and respective passwords of all Skype users.
Skype and Video Conference Differences
Skype is like a personal service for use on a personal computer, one person to one person audio or video call also called as point-to-point call.
H.323 standard video conferencing equipment ranges from personal PC based, Room based (point-to-point, point-to-multipoint) and MCU.
Multipoint Video Conferencing
Skype is like a closed user group application, and it is basically employs peer-to-peer technology and it does not support Multipoint conference call.
Multipoint calls require a conferencing bridge called as MCU (Multipoint Conferencing Unit) to combine all of the participant’s audio and video into a single call. It is similar to PBX where a central switch is installed and extensions are connected to it.
Standard H.323 room based equipment has point-to-point and point-to-multipoint conferencing facility. It means that room based equipment has embedded conference bridge like circuit in it.
The design determines how many simultaneous conference calls can happen 4 or 5 or 6 party conference.
Further Skype is a closed network and uses proprietary signaling protocols and it does not allow making video calls with any standard video conferencing equipment. But latest development is LifeSize Passport supports audio only calls with Skype.
Standard video conferencing equipment which follows ITU-T standards can call any other standard equipment either in the same network or anywhere in the world.
Skype is a basic low resolution application. Resolution is very important when it comes to video call, as seeing is believing. Standard equipment has standard definition, High definition and full high definition resolution for better video quality.
Multipoint Conferencing Unit (MCU)
MCU are so powerful and enhances the video conferencing by handling multiple multiparty conferences, scheduling a conference, Integration with Microsoft outlook, Streaming, Multicast, and Recording.
Can create different conference bridge and define number of participant in each conference bridge, can control bandwidth usage for individual groups, merging and detaching multiple groups during video call.
Standard video conferencing equipment is widely preferred in corporate, educational institutes, hospitals and everywhere.