H.323 is a standard approved by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 1996 to promote compatibility in videoconference transmissions over IP networks. H.323 was originally promoted as a way to provide consistency in audio, video and data packet transmissions in the event that a local area network (LAN) did not provide guaranteed service quality (QoS). Although it was doubtful at first whether manufacturers would adopt H.323, it is now considered to be the standard for interoperability in audio, video and data transmissions as well as Internet phone and voice-over-IP (VoIP) because it addresses call control and management for both point-to-point and multipoint conferences as well as gateway administration of media traffic, bandwidth and user participation.
H.323, which describes how multimedia communications occur between terminals, network equipment and services, is part of a larger group of ITU recommendations for multi-media interoperability called H.3x. The latest of these recommendations, H.248, is a recommendation to provide a single standard for the control of gateway devices in multi-media packet transmissions to allow calls to connect from a LAN to a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), as well as to other standards-based terminals. This recommendation was announced in August 2000, by the ITU-TU Study Group 16 and the Megaco Working Group of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).