Definitely better than being there — IMTC annual meeting over the Internet

The International Multimedia Telecommunications Consortium is “a global consortium of companies dedicated to the advancement of open standards and multi media communications through our Activity Group initiatives and annual events that include interoperability forums and workshops.” I was a vice-president of IMTC in 1995-6, after the merger of IMTC and the Personal Conferencing Work Group.

In 1996 I, when I was last active in IMTC, I participated in board meetings in Munich and London and the annual meeting in Boston. This time I participated in the IMTC annual meeting mostly from my home office, but also while driving, running errands.

The primary venue for the meeting was RADVISION’s SCOPIA Desktop, which also allows for participation by H.323 video calling and PSTN calling. The participation probably peaked at 30+ distinct callers, mostly calling by SCOPIA clients, a few calling by telephone, and at least one conference room calling, presumably using an H.323 system. Though there were glitches of various kinds at various times, the overall experience was surprisingly good.

Compared to flying to Boston or across the Atlantic for a three hour meeting, it was definitely better than physically being there. About two-thirds of the way through the meeting, I was interrupted and needed to leave my office and the SCOPIA client. But I had had a chance to browse materials in anticipation of the rest of the meeting, and listen in from my phone while I ran my errands. (Android doesn’t seem to be a client option yet, but perhaps it will be.)

On the other hand, there were no direct chances to get to know the participants outside of the Internet meeting. The 90s IMTC meetings were typically multiple day events, with hundreds of attendees and opportunities. None of today’s participants were people I knew from back then, so some informal contact would have been useful. And there was no opportunity to sample the attractions of Boston, London or Munich.

In the 90s, one of the major activities of IMTC was fostering the now irrelevant T.120, but IMTC was also at the forefront of fostering conferencing on packet switched networks, particularly the Internet. (Today there was a bit of nostalgic disparagement of T.120…) Now IMTC is fostering a much broader range of options, with many activity groups pursing topics across the spectrum from hand-held mobile devices to immersive “telepresence”.

There was much lamenting lack of interoperability, not that different from When will they ever learn?, but with commitment and plans to try to improve interoperability. There should be a recording of the meeting and copies of the presentation materials available soon at

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