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There are a number of different ways of sharing data and collaborating on applications while taking part in a videoconference. Many of these are proprietary, and often have the drawback that they share the data in-band using valuable bandwidth (and computing resources) that would otherwise be available to the video and audio data.

Experience within the Scottish videoconferencing community has shown that the most efficient and practical means of data sharing, without sacrificing the quality of any of the media (audio, video or data) is to use out-of-band data sharing. The most suitable product that has been found to facilitate this data sharing is Microsoft NetMeeting. It is easy to use and fairly robust. It has become the de facto standard and the data sharing package against which all others are measured. It is standards-based.

The use of out-of-band

NetMeeting over IP within videoconferencing to facilitate data sharing, is likely to meet the needs of the vast majority of academic users of both the H.320 and H.323 videoconferencing service. There is a wide body of experience and support available for this method. For those that have particular requirements, there are alternatives, and these have been outlined.

This is a fast changing area of information and communications technology, in which new products, product updates and protocol developments are frequent.

The managers of JANET Videoconferencing will continue to keep a close watch on developments and experiences in data sharing in order to offer the best possible options to videoconferencing users.

The references and links below lead to a number of support sites and articles.

Further assistance is available from video and collaboration technology experts who support the work of the Video Technology Advisory Service (VTAS). VTAS can be contacted via JANET Service Desk at