I am interested in desktop video conferencing and want to obtain more information about this topic. I have some questions. Does Hong Kong have this kind of service? If yes, do companies install this system in their offices or do they have to book a room through, say, Hongkong Telecom. Are there any companies providing installation services for such systems? Can you give me some names. How much do these services cost? Are you charged on a time basis as with an IDD phone call? What packages are available in Hong Kong, such as ProShare? Does the user require any training or have to possess any computer knowledge? YAN NGON-FUNG Hong Kong This is one question - or series of questions - I will tackle as a whole. Video conferencing solutions of various kinds and for users with vastly different budgets have been available in Hong Kong for a number of years. The kind of system you end up using will depend on your needs and, not least of all, on your budget. You can have a local-area, network-based video conferencing system set up within your office. You can buy and set up a much more personal video conferencing system on your PC that you can use with someone else who has the same set up, and all through standard phone lines. You can go in for a slightly more advanced system that will offer better quality, but that needs dedicated Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) lines to work. Or you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and equip a conference room with state-of-the-art technology that uses high-speed leased lines, making a video conference only a short step away from a real-life meeting. And yes, companies such as Hongkong Telecom and AT&T, have fully equipped video conferencing facilities at some offices that you can rent under various terms, saving huge installation costs. The type of service is scaled so that a firm with a tighter budget will be able to use a conferencing system it can afford. Some top hotels in Hong Kong have in-house conferencing facilities available for booking. On the high end, there are products and services offered by the likes of PictureTel. These are the systems that would cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to install and only large multinationals would consider. PictureTel offers comparatively smaller systems, too, but once again, they are on the high side, both in terms of price and quality. Products such as Intel's ProShare are available in Hong Kong, too, as are even lower end systems like ShareVision. ProShare is an excellent office video conferencing solution. It cannot, however, run on ordinary phone lines like the lower-end ShareVision. The latter, distributed by Jardine Office Systems, can be used either as an intra-office system, or to hook up to a relative in, say, Canada. The problem is picture quality will not be of the kind you are used to seeing on television. Costs of such systems vary wildly. If you use the facilities provided by a telecom company or a hotel, you will have to pay for usage, be it on a per-minute basis or a per-session basis. If, however, you buy a system like ProShare, your outlay is limited to the one-off cost of the video conferencing system and to the monthly cost of the ISDN line or lines you need to use for it. Hongkong Telecom can prices for such lines. If you use something like ShareVision locally, you need only worry about the one-off system cost. But if you wanted to use the system to stay in touch with relatives in Canada, you would pay the regular IDD charge of a call to Canada every time you used it for the purpose. Companies selling systems will install them, and train you in their use.