Abstract

Online meetings allow for remote conferencing and collaborative work among geographically dispersed participants and can save time and expenses that an ordinary face-to-face meeting would require. However, carrying real-time communication within the packet-switched Internet is a challenging task, especially in an African context, which is characterized by low bandwidth and unstable Internet connections. This paper presents and evaluates a tool that was designed to enhance the user experience for Web-based conferencing, given the constraints of Internet conditions typical of Africa. Approaches used to achieve this goal included: reprioritisation of multimedia streams, image differentiation, half duplex communication mode and stream compression. It was found that less than 56 kbps of bandwidth was required in order to: transmit audio; use video to convey presence; share slides and screen; and support text-based chat and floor control. Furthermore, users were largely satisfied with the tool and felt that it created a good user experience.