It used to be that the only people an individual had more than a passing acquaintance with were other locals. Extended families lived together in the same dwelling, maintaining connections for a lifetime in the same village or town. Over time, this changed, and family members started moving to dwellings of their own. Prior to postal services, this meant cutting ties with everyone a person knew and making an entirely new set of acquaintances.
While receiving a letter from a beloved friend or family member has always been welcome, people have sought to improve ways of keeping in touch. Alexander Graham Bell brought us all closer together when he invented the telephone, because hearing a loved one’s voice makes us feel closer to them than reading something they wrote. No longer did leaving one’s hometown mean leaving all one’s friends and family behind. As society progressed from rural to urban, the telephone kept traditional families together over long distances.
The Internet found ways to improve on the best features of previous communications. Email made sending letters instant. Online video gamers have been using voice-over-IP software apps like Teamspeak and Ventrillo since the 2000s, talking to people all over the world through a headset and microphone for the price of an Internet connection. With people so eager to talk to one another, it was only a matter of time before video was integrated on the web.
Video conferencing has long been associated with international businesses (and maybe the odd superhero team), but it is very commonplace today. Most apps that support video conferencing, such as Skype and Discord, are free to use. All users need is a webcam, and some combination of speakers and microphones. Headsets are very common, but are limited to only one user, so many people use speakers and a microphone that is set with a push-to-talk button.
What’s changed is the speed of the Internet. As technology has improved, so has our capacity for uploading and downloading data. Video conferencing takes a lot of upload data, but improvements in Internet infrastructure that led to 3G and 4G LTE also brought households a lot more uploading capacity than they had before, making it easier to use video and making it available to more users. This environment allowed apps like Skype and Discord to develop and thrive.
Today we live in a world where people might live in another city, state or country from their families and friends. Even long distance couples are a more frequent phenomenon as partners pursue professional interests and use video conferencing solutions to stay in touch. Telephones may have put us in touch with friends and family who live far away, but video conferencing brings us together by allowing us to see one another, which makes it seem almost as if the parties are actually there.
Having an event, such as a wedding or important birthday, on webcam for distant family and friends to view has enhanced many a major family gathering, but there are still many people watching one feed. You can only see what the host is doing. One major improvement in video conferencing for home users is the number of people who can be on one call. Everyone in the call has a feed, so you can all see one another, face to face, in real time.
2020 brought the phrase “social distancing” into the national lexicon and highlighted the usefulness of video conferencing for all social group activities, from teaching school classes to holding book clubs. However, families can use the same technology to be able to spend time together when they can’t be together in person. Special occasions, important events, and just everyday life can be shared on both mobile devices and desktop computers these days, as if everyone were in the same room together.
All of this can happen because of fast, reliable Internet service. Video conferencing is transmitted online or over WiFi, and the faster your service is, the clearer your reception of others. You will also broadcast clearly yourself. You will get to see every moment of your family and friends’ lives while you’re online together and they will get to see you. Your hardware, like your camera and microphone, could be excellent, but if your Internet connection is slow or drops frequently, video conferencing can be frustrating.
Finding reliable high-speed Internet is easy, though. Simply tell us your zip code, and we’ll show you all the providers in your area and what their rates are. You can find the connection you need at the right price, and use it to video conference with your family, loved ones, and friends when you can’t be with them in person.