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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.
This technique was very expensive, though, and could not be used for applications such as telemedicine, distance education, and business meetings.
In 1995 the first public videoconference between North America and Africa took place, linking a technofair in San Francisco with a techno-rave and cyberdeli in Cape Town.
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.
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.