What Technology does Access Grid use?

Access Grid uses technology that is generally available:

Internet - instead of using telephone wires or ISDN, the Access Grid uses the Internet to send video, audio and other data streams. This means that it is straightforward to incorporate multiple sites without having to book time on servers. Because the Access Grid is of high quality and can involve many sites, it has to make efficient use of available bandwidth. It does this by using innovative networking technology known as multicast.

Open Source - the software to support Access Grid is Open Source where possible. ('Open Source' means that the program code may be viewed and edited by anyone.) It has mostly been developed by the academic community, with contributions from many different institutions.

Equipment needed - this varies, depending on the size of your budget:

For up to £40k you can have a fully-equipped Access Grid node, with extras such as a document viewer, laptop etc.

For between £25k and £30k you can have a minimal Access Grid node, with three cameras (one less than usual) and a minimum number of microphones, but no extras.

For around £8k, you could opt for the Access Grid office node solution, which can accommodate about 3-5 people, giving a good quality experience, with the convenience that it can fit on a desk with no need for dedicated studios, nor expensive room modifications.

The cheapest solution, costing from £50 to £300, is Access Grid on a desktop that uses a PC, webcam and microphone headset. Although this solution can be useful to allow important people to take part in meetings who may otherwise have been unable to, many of the benefits of using Access Grid (such as a large screen and natural sounding audio) are lost. Therefore, it's not recommended as a permanent solution.