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News media organizations have begun to use desktop technologies like Skype to provide higher-quality audio than the phone network, and video links at much lower cost than sending professional equipment or using a professional studio.

More popular videotelephony technologies use the Internet rather than the traditional landline phone network, even accounting for modern digital packetized phone network protocols, and even though videotelephony software commonly runs on smartphones.

Videotelephony developed in parallel with conventional voice telephone systems from the mid-to-late 20th century.

Very expensive videoconferencing systems rapidly evolved throughout the 1980s and 1990s from proprietary equipment, software and network requirements to standards-based technologies that were available for anyone to purchase at a reasonable cost.

A number of organizations believed that videotelephony would be superior to plain voice communications.

However video technology was to be deployed in analog television broadcasting long before it could become practical—or popular—for videophones.

The first dedicated systems started to appear as ISDN networks were expanding throughout the world.

At the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Nagano, Japan, Seiji Ozawa conducted the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony simultaneously across five continents in near-real time.

Such an antecedent usually consisted of two closed-circuit television systems connected via coax cable or radio.

An example of that was the German Reich Postzentralamt (post office) video telephone network serving Berlin and several German cities via coaxial cables between 19.

Although not as widely used in everyday communications as audio-only and text communication, useful applications include sign language transmission for deaf and speech-impaired people, distance education, telemedicine, and overcoming mobility issues.

It is also used in commercial and corporate settings to facilitate meetings and conferences, typically between parties that already have established relationships.

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