AREN Video Bridge Services

AREN Video Bridge Services are provided by the Alabama Supercomputer Authority (ASA) for its Alabama Research and Education Network (AREN) clients.

What is the AREN Video Bridge, and when do I need to use it?

If a videoconference involves more than two sites (multi-point videoconference), a "video bridge" may need to be scheduled. If a videoconference requires connection to at least one H.320 site, then a “video bridge” may need to be scheduled.

The AREN Video Bridge is operated by the Alabama Supercomputer Authority and is located in the Alabama Research and Education Network Operations Center in Huntsville.

The AREN Video Bridge:

Who can schedule the AREN Video Bridge?
The AREN Video Bridge is available for educational purposes to Alabama’s public education institutions.
Technical Requirements Necessary to Connect to the AREN Video Bridge
The standard for videoconferencing is H.320 when using ISDN or H.323 when using video-over-IP. To ensure high quality video and audio, AREN has standardized on a transmission rate of 384 Kbps at 30 fps (frames per second) for video bridge conferences. H.320 and H.323 are ITU-T standards for videoconferencing.
All clients planning to use the AREN Video Bridge Scheduled Service must go through the videoconference system registration and testing process before they can use the Bridge. In order to ensure a high quality video bridge service, AREN retains the right to deny the use of the Bridge to any videoconference system that does not meet our technical requirements determined during the testing process. See Technical Coordination and Videoconference System Registration.
Conference Mode Options
The AREN Video Bridge supports different conference mode layout options. Voice activated full screen switching is the most commonly used conference mode layout. Continuous Presence is the category name for conference mode layouts that allow for the simultaneous display of multiple participants during a video bridge conference. Continuous Presence enhances the experience of videoconferencing by providing a “live” feeling and constant interaction with multiple sites. The conference mode must be selected when the bridge conference is scheduled.

Full Screen

Side by Side

4 cells

5 + 1 cell

9 cells

Full Screen
One cell occupies the entire screen. The site shown is based on who is talking. This option provides the most detail to viewers, for example this option can provide a better view of facial expressions.
Side By Side
Two cells are displayed side by side on the screen.
4 cell
Four cells are displayed on the screen. Each cell occupies one quarter of the screen.
5 + 1 Cell
Larger cell displays host site. Smaller cells show other sites in conference.
9 cell
Nine cells of equal size are displayed on the screen. There are three rows each containing three cells.
Dynamic Continuous Presence
The Video Bridge automatically selects the conference mode layout based on the number of participants in the conference.
Lecture Mode
The host site sees the Continuous Presence display while participating sites see a full screen of the host site. The Continuous Presence display can be side by side, 4 cell, 9 cell, or auto. This option provides the most detail to viewers of the presenting site.

Video Bridge Resource and Conference End Point Limits

The bridge is assigned on a first come, first scheduled basis.

The following chart shows the total resources available on the AREN Video Bridge. Resources can be divided to support multiple simultaneous conferences.

Type of Connection
If you are connecting via:
End Points per 384Kbps
The maximum 384 Kbps site per conference is…
H.320 (ISDN) 3
H.323 (IP) 48
Combined ISDN and IP 48

An end point is defined as a videoconferencing system connects to the video bridge.
AREN Video Bridge Charges

The AREN Video Bridge service is offered to reduce costs to Alabama public education institutions. These services are offered based on best commercial practices to the extent that can be accommodated by AREN’s Bridge assets. These services are funded by appropriation of funds by the State of Alabama.
The reasons for ISDN dial out from the AREN Video Bridge are:

  1. Connecting to systems that only have ISDN.
  2. The far end system does not have IP.
Scheduling Options

Individual Video Bridge conferences require a video bridge reservation for each date and time the video bridge is required. For recurring conferences, an initial video bridge reservation is all that is required.

All video bridge conferences require an initial conference profile to be set-up in the AREN Video Bridge. Video bridge conference profiles and changes to existing profiles can be requested by sending an email to

Lead Times for Reserving the AREN Video Bridge (Scheduled Service)

AREN Video Bridge reservations should be made in accordance with the lead times listed below. Lead times are required in order to allow technical coordination and testing. Technical coordination involves a review and follow-up of each Video Bridge conference by the AREN Technical Coordinator. After a review, a follow-up may involve additional testing and/or a change in the set-up of the bridge conference in order to assure a technically reliable bridge conference. Videoconference System Registration and testing is required with first-time connections to determine compatibility of the videoconference room with the Video Bridge.

The following lead-times are recommended when reserving the AREN Video Bridge:

AREN sites 5 Business Days
Domestic Sites (Non-AREN) * 10 Business Days
International Sites* 15 Business Days

* Lead times are for first-time connections to a far end site. If previous successful connections have been made, AREN recommends a 5-business day lead-time.

AREN Video Bridge conferences scheduled with less lead-time than suggested will be scheduled at the discretion of AREN Video Systems Staff. AREN reserves the right to reject a bridge conference when recommended lead times (needed to allow for technical coordination and testing) are not followed.

Reserving the AREN Video Bridge (Scheduled Service)

The AREN Video Bridge is scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

To reserve the AREN Video Bridge, contact AREN Help Desk at .

There are three basic steps involved in reserving the AREN Video Bridge:

Video Reservation (Scheduled Service)

You will be asked to provide the following information upon contacting the Video Reservations Center:

Technical Coordination and Videoconference System Registration

Technical coordination involves a review and follow-up of each Video Bridge conference by the AREN Technical Coordinator. Videoconference System Registration is required for sites that have not connected with the AREN Video Bridge for over one (1) year. The registration process requires the site to provide videoconference system information and make a test call(s) into the AREN Video Bridge. The site registration process facilitates accurate site compatibility and database information. AREN will maintain a database of sites that have been qualified.

Reservation Lead Times are required to allow technical coordination and site testing.

Confirmations (Scheduled Service)
Individuals scheduling the AREN Video Bridge for a multi-point conference will receive a confirmation , via e-mail, with bridge telephone numbers for all site participants. This AREN Video Bridge confirmation will be sent to the meeting coordinator contact and the respective Videoconference Room Technical Contacts of the sites involved in the videoconference. It is the responsibility of the meeting coordinator to disseminate this information to the appropriate individuals (i.e. end users). AREN schedules each Bridge conference to allow end points to connect to the Bridge 15 minutes before the scheduled start time of the meeting or class. AREN recommends that end points connect to the Video Bridge early so that the meeting or class will start on time.

Cancellation of AREN Video Bridge Reservations (Scheduled Service)

Contact the AREN Help Desk at 800.338.8320 to cancel AREN Video Bridge reservations.
Video Bridge Etiquette

Using a Video Bridge requires special etiquette to assure that your meeting starts on time and continues with fewer interruptions.

We suggest that a Video Bridge meeting facilitator be assigned for each conference at the host videoconference room. This person could be one of the meeting attendees.

The Video Bridge meeting facilitator should:

What do I do if I experience trouble during a Bridged Conference?

The AREN Help Desk provides troubleshooting and technical support to assigned Videoconferencing Room Technical Contacts only. If technical problems occur during an interactive videoconference, the conferees should request assistance from the assigned Videoconferencing Room Technical Contact. The Technical Contact may call the AREN Help Desk at 800.338.8320 for assistance before, during, or after the bridge conference.
Video Bridge Maintenance Period Maintenance of the AREN Video Bridge is scheduled based on the AREN System Shut-Downs, Tests, and Maintenance Guidelines.