Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it possible for a listener to participate in the meeting by giving an answer?
  • Does KZWeb use VoIP (Voice over IP)?
  • Can anyone listen to the meetings?
  • What are the benefits of KZWeb?
  • How many listeners does KZWeb support simultaneously?
  • Is a broadcast recorded or stored somewhere on the internet?
  • What specific skills are needed to use or operate KZWeb?
  • Is a broadcast or recording with video also possible?
  • Can other software be installed on the system?

    Yes. By connecting the telephone line to the audio installation, a listener at home can simply call the Kingdom Hall. After the call is received, the speaker can be signalled that there is a participant on the phone. If that participant gets the turn, the sound servant will open that channel on the mixer and the voice of the participant will be heard over de sound installation.
    For signalling the speaker, many options are possible. Some are "High-Tech" but the most simple and effective way for the signalling is for the sound servant to hold the phone in the air.

    Does KZWeb use VoIP (Voice over IP)?

    No. This is because of the sound quality and the way VoIP operates.

    Sound quality: Because VoIP uses the same bandwidth as regular telephony, the sound quality is inferior. This is because there is only 3000Hz of bandwidth available. Therefore not all frequencies are passed along. For the elderly with reduced hearing ability it can be very hard to concentrate on a meeting of 2 hours. Especially over a speaker phone.
    KZWeb on the other hand, uses MP3 encoding. This produces a much better sound quality. By default KZWeb uses a low bitrate of 32kbps to support listeners with a dial-up over a 56k6 modem connection. This already provides a significantly better quality than VoIP or regular telephony. If there are only listeners with broadband connections, the bitrate may even be set higher.

    Operation: VoIP may be used in two ways: through a VoIP provider or through Peer-to-Peer networks

    In case of a provider a listener can use a regular phone line to listen to the audio signal from KZWeb. To do this, special hardware is needed to provide the connection between the KZWeb's internet connection and the listener's phone line. This can be done in two ways: 1) Doing it yourself with special hardware or 2) a subscription from a provider who does this for you.
    The first option is not flexible as it requires every listener (including the occasional listener) to own or have the necessary hardware at home, including an internet connection. The special hardware can also be put in the Kingdom Hall. Needless to say that this is very costly.
    The second option reduces the need for the hardware and expertise to install and maintain it but it still is costly. This still would leave us with the problem of access control. In addition, the Kingdom Hall and the listeners would become dependent on a third party.
    In both situations it would still be necessary to create a so-called conference circuit in order to connect multiple phone lines to the Kingdom Hall. This always involves a commercial third party for even more dedicated hardware. And, of course, this leads to additional costs.

    With Peer-to-Peer networks (like Skype, although no true VoIP) the audio signal is transferred through other (unknown!) nodes in the Peer-to-Peer network. This software is free but doesn't have sufficient conferencing abilities due to a limited number of allowed participants. Higher numbers of participants are allowed with the commercial service. Apart from this, a VoIP systems necessitates the use of a computer or the use of a VoIP. The latter one can be obtained at a modest price. The key problem would be access control.

    A VoIP system would also create a dependency on a third party. In case of a VoIP provider this entails the provider and a peer-to-peer network with an unspecified number of unknown participants. Tying a Kingdom Hall VoIP system to a VoIP peer-to-peer network would also mean sharing the server and the network to other participants in the network for all kinds of "undefined businesses". The peer-to-peer character is compulsory for anyone participating and can not be switched of.

    Can anyone listen to the meetings?

    Yes and No.

    Yes: Anyone who is authorized can listen to the broadcast from the Kingdom Hall provided he/she has an internet connection (even dial up) and the appropriate hardware/software. The appropriate hardware/software could be a PC or web radio. Because there are some minimal requirements for the web radio, KZWeb is able to advise you on this.

    No: The broadcasts are not publicly accessible. The listener would need authorization which is provided through the congregation.

    What are the benefits of KZWeb?
    • Flexibility. Adding a new listener is a matter of seconds. Revoking this access is a matter of a few mouse clicks.
    • Independence. KZWeb uses the internet only as a channel for communication. No third party facilities are needed. The entire management is taken care of in the Kingdom Hall.
    • Recordings. All broadcasted meetings are recorded and archived for a configurable period of time (default one year). It takes about 1 minute to transfer a recorded meeting from the archives to a USB storage device. This makes it possible to use multiple devices (for instance portable audioplayer) to be handed out to brothers and sisters who can not attend the meeting nor be attached to the KZweb system.
    • Sound quality. Because KZWeb uses MP3 encoding, it produces a much better sound compared to telephony, be it analogue, digital or VoIP (Voice over IP).
    How many listeners does KZWeb support simultaneously?

    Approximately 20 The actual amount of listeners depends on the real (not advertised) upload speed of the Kingdom Hall internet connection. The real upload speed depends on the quality of the cables and the distance from the Kingdom Hall to the telephone companies' switchboard.

    During one stress test over a connection with a specified speed of 1024 kbps (which was also actually achieved) a maximum of 27 listeners could be served. In reality, most connections will not reach this maximum speed. For this reason we have decided that 20 simultaneous listeners is the maximum amount. We believe this should suffice for most congregations.

    Is a broadcast recorded or stored somewhere on the internet?

    No. The audio signal is digitized in the Kingdom Hall. The digital signal is then transmitted directly to the listeners without any redirects or interference from others. After the digital audio signal is received, it is also vanished from the internet.
    The digitized audio signal however, is recorded in the archive on the server in the Kingdom Hall. This recording can be copied to an USB device in the Kingdom Hall. The recording can not be retransmitted nor can it be downloaded through the internet.

    What specific skills are needed to use or operate KZWeb?


    • KZWeb has a tailor-made user interface that simplifies the operation of the server in the Kingdom Hall.
    • The listener at home uses his/her own familiar computer. For the elderly and those without a computer, we recommend the webradio that is available at SolutionsRadio. It is extremely simple to use: power switch on/off, and a volume control.

    Is a broadcast or recording with video also possible?

    No. KZWeb does not support video. KZweb was designed to support the elderly and/or (chronically) ill. Sick people are quite often in bed or feel too ill to watch a screen. Usually the elderly do not have a computer to receive and watch video.

    Besides this, there are some other practical issues:

    • Video requires much more bandwidth. In order to provide the KZWeb service to a substantial number of listeners, a much more expensive internet connection would be needed in the Kingdom Hall.
    • Listeners without a broadband internet connection (like the elderly who don't have ADSL and use the webradio on a dial-up connection) can not receive the broadcast and will not be able to benefit from the theocratic education.
    • Listeners (including the elderly) would be obliged to have (or obtain) a computer (and be able to operate it) in order to receive a broadcast. Copying a video recording onto DVD has proven to be too time consuming which resulted in only one copy to be made after the meeting. This single copy had to circulate again with all delays in receiving the theocratic information and logistic problems to get the copy to everyone before the next meeting.
    • Multiple expensive cameras would be needed in the Kingdom Hall to produce a decent image. Regular camcorders are usually not fitted for the need. Think about the tri-pods, expensive zoom lenses (usually the cameras cannot be placed right in front of the podium), extra and proper lighting (with higher electricity consumption), expensive video mixers or multiplexers to make one final shot from the 2 or 3 camera's.
    • It is very labour intensive to operate the video camera's which means that those who operate them, will not be able to benefit from the talks and education that is given. The same is true for the one operating the video mixer/multiplexer.

    Of course, these problems could be solved with cheaper equipment or with a simpler setup. This has been tried by various Kingdom Halls, but didn't provide the quality nor the benefit that was expected.

    Compared to some District Conventions where a video system is or was used, the benefits are very small. It requires a substantial investment in equipment, training time and operating time (during the meetings). The operators will not be able to concentrate completely on the education provided during the meetings. All this effort is undertaken to provide a very small number of brothers and sisters with a (though lovingly made, but non-professional) video, who might even not feel well enough to sit and watch it. For this reason, KZweb deemed the added value of video recordings too low to add this feature to the system.

    Can other software be installed on the system?

    No. KZWeb is a "Black-Box", an appliance. You can not install other software on e.g. a CD or DVD player either.

    In order to provide guaranteed operation and the necessary ease-of-use, KZWeb is a closed system. The user interface does not allow additional software to be installed nor operated. Besides, KZWeb is designed to be used for one purpose only: handling sound in an easy way without additional maintenance.

    Many times we received the question if it would be possible to install the Watchtower Library on the KZWeb system or other software to support a beamer/projector and presentations. Though technically possible, this will not be done.

    For the Watchtower Library the counter with the sound equipment is definitely not the right place. The Library could be used during the meeting if someone would have to stand in for someone else. The Library could also be used by anyone in the congregation. But it is definitely undesirable to have anyone operate the KZWeb system just for the Library, let alone during the meeting.

    The responsibility of a presentation is not with the sound servant. For this reason it is by far better that the speaker will operate any system for presentations by himself or in co-operation with the stage servant. This way the sound servant will be able to focus on his own task and operate the equipment within his own responsibility.