Experience Video Calling WIth Callcentric

So you’ve got your new Android phone, quad core Exynos, 2GB RAM and a 1.9MP front facing camera. You receive a SIP call on your SIP softphone and your friend is describing this awesome new craze in Japan. He wants to show you but he’ll have to wait to get off the phone to send the pics on Instagram, facebook or through regular snail-email. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to turn on the video feed while on the call and see the awesomeness in realtime? Well you can and you should because, guess what, you can use video with Callcentric.

 

Just what does it take to get video calling going with your Callcentric account then? We’ve categorized our analysis of this topic below into the following sections:

Possible/Impossible: What doesn’t work
Necessary: What’s needed to get started
Configuration: What you want to configure in order to get video calling to work
Troubleshooting: Some tips that can help improve video calling quality and capability

We’ll start at what you would need to get video calling working and proceed through the rest…

THE POSSIBLE AND THE IMPOSSIBLE

If you got this far and believe that you could call your son’s mobile number and begin video calling then stop. You will not be able to place or receive video calls directly to traditional mobile, landline, international or toll free numbers. Video calling, similar to solutions like Skype and Facetime operate over your internet connection: DSL, Cable, 3G, 4G, LTE…etc.

If you got this far and believe that you will be able to use your Callcentric account to call your son’s Callcentric account then you’re right. Video calling is possible when calling to other Callcentric users or users on other SIP based networks. In essence your video calls are not limited to Callcentric users, any other SIP service is accessible to you if you can dial the SIP URI of the user. Likewise you can receive direct SIP calls from other users using your unique Callcentric SIP Address/URI.

NECESSARY

In order to place and receive video calls you need a few things:

Software or hardware

This can come in the form of a softphone on your desktop or Android/iPhone/Windows Phone device, hardware device with a built in camera or an IPPhone with a built in camera. We have fiddled with video over the past couple of years and have seen some good progression in terms of the range of options available and the different formats they run on. We are constantly looking out to find new solutions which can benefit both us and the user.

Some options for software and hardware are:

We are still in the process of testing further solutions and will provide an update in the future with other video capable SIP solutions.

*These are paid software solutions

Camera/webcam

If you would be using a softphone on your desktop then you’d definitely want to have a webcam, or built in camera in your notebook or monitor. You don’t need a high definition camera, a 640×480 camera should do. Even if you choose to use a high definition camera you shouldn’t have problems as the codecs used should determine the best resolution to produce your video. For those using a smartphone then as long as you have a front facing camera you should be ready to start making video calls.

Internet connection

One should not forget that all of this would be done over an internet connection. Ideally you will want 2MBs bandwidth upload and download if delivering high quality video. You may get away with a 1MBs connection if doing very low quality video; however this may not be desirable.

For 3G, 4G, LTE…etc users please be aware that you would be using your mobile data if you would not be placing calls over wifi. This may incur extra charges. Ideally you will want to make sure that your video calls only go out over wifi so as to not incur any additional charges.

You can test your bandwidth/internet connection capability here or here.

CONFIGURATION

Once you have your choice of softphone, mobile app or IPPhone you have to make sure it’s setup to properly send and receive video calling. So first things first, make sure you can register your software/hardware to our servers and that you can at least place and receive free test calls.

Once you can confirm that everything is ok you can then make sure that your video settings are configured out. We recommend using H.264 if available as it will deliver the best quality while using the lowest bandwidth. For a run down make sure that you have configured, if configurable, the following in order of best to worst:

Codec H264, H263+, H263…any other codec
Video resolution 640×480, 400×240, 320×240…any other resolution your UA supports
Video bitrate 1024kbps, 640kbps
Framerate 30fps, 24fps, 15fps
Allowable packet loss 10%, 15% Anything grater may indicate bandwidth problems or require a lower bitrate setting
Adaptive bitrate Yes

The above settings should provide the best quality for both video and audio. Once you’re configured properly, give video calling go and send us a tweet, @Callcentric, or a trouble ticket and let us know your experience.

TROUBLESHOOTING

Hopefully you do not end up having to read this since your video experience will be perfect. Some problems may be easily fixable while others may require patches or fixes from the developers of your UA solution.

We do not control your video codecs and our servers themselves actually do not support video. Your video communications operate as passthrough data. We do not translate anything and the decision is based on the calling user and called user.

For the quick fixes try the following:

If you are unable to get video initiated then try selecting only one video codec until you get it to work. Remember that both you and the person you are calling must support the same codec.

If you notice problems such as dropped frames or frozen video then try decreasing the video bit rate and/or frame rate.

If you notice problems with the camera itself then you will want to make sur the settings for your camera are ok. For example if the image is too dark then increase the contrast ratio. Use automatic adjustments to get the best picture.

If you notice that you have overall poor quality and are using a router then you may try enabling or disabling QoS (Quality Of Service) rules for RTP/Media or whichever definition may be used.

Video calling is a neat and helpful feature. From Google Hangouts to Facetime to Skype the options for face to face communications are growing and evolving rapidly. With the Callcentric service you have an optional platform that can be used solely or in combination with your other communication utilities to enable video based conversations. It is not the perfect solution but it is surprisingly usable in many situations especially with a desktop IP Phone. So we end our short but hopefully informative post on video by telling you to go try it out and let us know your experience.