Which video conferencing mobile application to reduce your impact?

Thierry Leboucq

The current “stay at home” context mechanically increases the use of online collaboration tools, in particular videoconferencing tools. This leads to a pressure on the network and more particularly to a significant load on the servers of each solution. It is therefore important from an efficiency point of view but also an environmental impact one to choose the simplest and most efficient solution.

For this study, we compare 5 videoconferencing applications: Whereby, Webex (by CISCO), Skype, Zoom and GoToMeeting.

For each of these applications, measured on an Samsung S7 smartphone (Android 8), the following three scenarios were carried out through our GREENSPECTOR Test Runner, allowing manual tests to be carried out over a period of 1 minute:

  • Audio conference only in one-to-one
  • One-to-one audio and video conference (camera activated on each side)
  • One-to-one audio conference and screen sharing

Each measurement is the average of 3 homogeneous measurements (with a small standard deviation). The consumption measured on the given smartphone according to a Wi-Fi type network can be different on a laptop PC with a wired network for example.

Measurement of energy consumption (mAh)

The Whereby application consumes the most of all three scenarios. Unless we take into account its “Mobile Mode” (later in this article), in this case it improves by a significant margin especially on the audio side. The GoToMeeting application is the least energy-consuming, closely followed by Zoom (+10%) and Webex (+12% more energy consumed).

The energy consumption of all these applications is on average 2 times higher when adding video to audio and only slightly higher when adding screen sharing to audio (+11%). It’s not a surprise, avoid sharing with a camera to consume less energy on your devices during your video conferences!

Measurement of data exchanged (MB)

GoToMeeting and Webex are the two applications that consume the least data. Skype is the one that consumes the most. Overall, we note that the audio scenario is the one that consumes the least data. While the scenario activating both audio and video stream is the most consuming one.

The data consumption of all of these applications is almost 5 times higher when adding video to audio and higher when adding screen sharing to audio (+37%). It’s not a surprise, avoid sharing video and limit your screen sharing to consume less data on networks in your video conferences!

Projection of the measured carbon impact data (gEqCO2)

A conference on mobile is 3 times more impactful for the environment when we add video to audio.

The carbon impact projection of all of these applications is on average 3 times greater when adding video to audio and higher when adding screen sharing to audio (+ 20%). It’s no surprise, avoid sharing video and limit your screen sharing to less impact infrastructure (network, datacenter) and on your devices in the context of video conferences!

Which applications optimize energy and data consumption?

Only Whereby and Webex could be tested on optimization features for the mobile version.

The Whereby application with its “Mobile mode” setting which limits the resolution of the stream as well as other resource consumption optimizations. And Webex thanks to its configuration allowing to deactivate High-definition playback of videos only. Whereby saves 21% on energy consumption on the audio side, 15% on the audio and video side and 3% on the screen sharing side. These gains are nevertheless low considering the results obtained by the application that consumes the most audio and video mode from our panel.

On the Webex side, the gains are barely visible as limited only to the video part. It’s barely 5% gain in the Audio and Video scenario. The carbon impact is even slightly higher in audio and screen sharing mode.

As for the Zoom application, a notification of battery overconsumption appeared several times during the measurements. Although we can optimize the video quality on PC, it does not seem possible to configure this on mobile. Without this optimization, the application becomes the most energy-consuming application in audio + video mode.

GREENSPECTOR expert advice:

  • Promote audio only during your conferences: the video stream will tend to consume much more especially when sharing video via camera.
  • We recommend that publishers provide optimization options to the user and make them as accessible as possible.

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