We are relatively fortunate that our corporate headquarters (where the CEO is) has a very fat pipe (~100 mbps with approx 50ms round trip to each remote office) while each remote office has at least a T1 (so figure free bandwidth of ~900 kbps). Unfortunately, we do not have any way of multicasting out to the remote offices, so we will be stuck using multiple plain old Point-to-Point connections.
My research has lead me to believe that h.264 or mpeg4 seem like the way to go. After playing with a few things (Quick Time Broadcaster, VLC, etc), nothing really struck us as being extraordinary. Right now I'm looking into a firewire camcorder and some sort of hardware encoding, but google hasn't turned up any mpeg4/h.264 hardware encoders that have known compatibility with streaming software (I'm hoping that elgato's turbo.264 works, but no evidence yet). So, any suggestions as to what's the best way to actually encode and send out the streams in realtime (so there isn't too much lag between the conference call and video broadcast)? What's the highest quality video that I can reasonably hope to squeeze into 800kbps?
We're hoping to spend just a few hundred dollars on this, but would be willing to go up to a few thousand if that's what it takes. I'm just hoping to avoid the $10K+ that the enterprise products (like vBrick) are asking for.