The Video Conferencing service provides quality, high-end ‘H323’ services to schools that use HICS. The key features are:
- The service is part of HICS and as such there are no additional costs for using it although your ICT Support Provider might charge you for setting up and supporting the end-points in your school.
- It is important to understand that neither HCC nor Updata can provide technical support for the physical endpoints in your school, though HCC can advise on the settings necessary to access the services.
- The service includes use of HCC’s video conferencing gatekeeper, which enables incoming and outgoing video calls to other endpoints on the National Education Network, using unique e164 numbers for each endpoint you own. Each e164 number is created by the school, not by HCC, and follows a particular pattern (see below.)
- The service also includes use of HCC’s ‘MCU’ (multipoint control unit) which enables multiple endpoints to take part in a single video conference.
Creating an e164 number
By following this pattern you can create unique e164 numbers for your endpoints. School e164 numbers are 17 digits long.
1. 0044 (for the UK)
2. 03021 (for Hertfordshire)
3. 1 (this is your organisation type – a school)
4. XXXX (your 4 digit DfES school number)
5. 101 (this is the 3 digit number you choose. We recommend starting at 101 and moving up, so your second system could end with 102 etc.)
Therefore an example E164 number for a school in Hertfordshire would look like this: 0044 03021 1 XXXX 101
Once you’ve created your e164 number you can enter it into the system settings of your endpoint.
Registering with the Hertfordshire Gatekeeper
Obviously each type of endpoint will differ slightly, but they generally have similar system settings menus which enable you to join it to your network, and specify the IP address of a ‘Gatekeeper’. This section may be called ‘Gatekeeper’, ‘H323’ or suchlike. Once the correct gatekeeper IP address has been put in, your endpoint will register the e164 number you previously created with the gatekeeper and then you will be able to make and receive calls with endpoints on the National Education Network, or beyond via a bridging service such as JVCS.
The Hertfordshire gatekeeper address is: 172.16.1.81
The port number, should it be requested, is 1719
Testing your registration
Once you’ve created your e164 number and registered with the gatekeeper, you can test your registration by dialling our dedicated Hertfordshire video conferencing test number: 0044 03021 1001
This is a ‘loopback’ test so once you’ve successfully connected you will see your own camera image sent back to you.
Using the Hertfordshire MCU
The Multipoint Control Unit allows more than 2 endpoints to join together for a video conference. It works by each endpoint dialling in to the MCU and from there, accessing a meeting which will have been set up by the meeting organiser. You can easily set up your own meetings or join other people’s, using the keys on your endpoint’s remote control.
The MCU’s e164 number is 0044 03021 3333.
It also has a ‘short code’ number but this will only work for schools within the HGfL so you should not give the number to 3rd parties as it will not work for them. The short number is 79.
Any endpoint trying to use these e164 numbers will first need to be registered with a gatekeeper on the National Education Network. Please note that only establishments within the HGfL can register with the Hertfordshire gatekeeper.
The MCU can also be accessed via its IP address, meaning you do not need to register your system with the gatekeeper first, but this will only work from within the HGfL. The IP address of the MCU is 172.16.1.80.
When you connect to the MCU you will access an automated menu which provides further instructions.
If your school wants to access video conferencing lessons and activities provided by third party organisations such as museums or distance learning providers, you will probably need to register the school and endpoint(s) with JVCS, the JANET Video Conferencing Service. They can also often bridge calls when the systems at each end are different, eg ISDN at one end and IP (H323) at the other end. Standard registration is free for schools, though there might be various charges connected with bridging services and the content provider you are working with. School that wish to use JVCS’s services will need to undergo their Quality Assurance test, which is a 10 to 15 minute video conference with a JVCS representative, who will test and advise the quality of video, sound etc. For further details, see our information on the HGfL here.
The JVCS Desktop service enables any JVCS member to initiate a video conference with another user or a guest, even if the guest does not have dedicated video conferencing equipment. By simply using a webcam/microphone and a small Windows client program called Tandberg ‘ConferenceMe’, available as a download from JVCS, anyone around the world can join you in a video conference.
The main advantages of this system are that if you are a school that owns dedicated video conferencing equipment, as many do, and you want to conference with others who perhaps do not have the higher end equipment, they can instead use this desktop system.
Alternatively, if another school or organisation that uses JVCS wants to conference with you, and you do not have dedicated equipment, you can suggest they arrange a conference to use the desktop system at your end.
The latest version of JVCS Desktop supports proxy servers and will automatically pick up the local proxy settings of computer being used, meaning that there should be no user-end configuration necessary.
A full document on the use of JVCS Desktop, including a link to a JVCS Desktop testing service, and the ‘ConferenceMe’ download, is available from the following link.