Cisco launches upgrades to IP videoconferencing gear

Cisco Systems Inc. has unveiled IP videoconferencing products that let users conduct videoconferences with up to 400 simultaneous participants.

The IP/VC 3540 Videoconferencing Series products are resold by Cisco under an OEM arrangement with RADVision. The gear lets companies combine several separate videoconferencing products into one system and establish large-scale conferencing sessions.

The 3540 system features a four-slot chassis that can be configured with multipoint control unit (MCU), gateway, and application and data conferencing server modules.

The MCU module combines audio and video streams to create conferences with three or more participants. A single MCU module can support up to 100 users in a conference or 100 users in multiple conferences simultaneously, Cisco says.

Up to four MCU modules can be combined in a single 3540 chassis for support of up to 400 participants. The previous limit with Cisco’s earlier-generation IP MCU was 15.

Analysts say the platform is aimed at more sophisticated users than past Cisco videoconferencing offerings. It will compete with offerings from Lucent and Polycom, Cisco officials say.

“This platform is very well-suited to a new set of customers that need a higher density, a higher degree of management and administration capabilities,” says Christine Perey, president of Perey Research and Consulting. “It’s fundamentally a new architecture.”

The gateway module lets users interconnect LAN-attached endpoints in IP networks with ISDN-based video networks supporting the H.320 and H.323 multimedia-over-IP standards. This module features two ISDN Primary Rate Interface ports and supports up to 30 simultaneous videoconferences between the IP and ISDN networks.

The application service and T.120 data-conferencing server module is based on an Intel Pentium processor running Microsoft Windows NT server software. The server hosts a T.120 data-conferencing application, which works with T.120 client software on participants’ workstations to enable data sharing and collaboration in a multipoint videoconference.

Pricing for the 3540 starts at US$45,900 for 30 users and US$100,900 for 100 users. The MCU and application/data-conferencing server module will be available this month; the gateway module will ship midyear.

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