Radvision Inc. is bringing a piece of science fiction to reality with the release of a new gateway that connects video-enabled mobile phones on a 3G wireless network with traditional videoconferencing equipment on the LAN.
Currently, the limited number of video-enabled phones can communicate only with similar devices on the same network and cannot connect back into a traditional videoconference. To connect the two worlds, a gateway is needed to translate (or transcode) the different protocols used, much like a gateway is needed between traditional IP and ISDN-based videoconferencing endpoints.
For multimedia communications, the new ViaIP GW-P20/M Gateway transcodes between the 3G-324M standard used in wideband Code Division Multiple Access and CDMA2000-based mobile phones to H.323 used in traditional IP desktop and group videoconferencing endpoints. The gateway also can be used for voice calls, translating between the AMR voice protocol used in the 3G world to G.711 on the IP side, says Eli Doron, founder and CTO of Radvision.
With the gateway, mobile phones can participate in point-to-point or multipoint (if a separate multipoint control unit is used) videoconference.
One challenge that Radvision faces is the limited number of 3G-enabled mobile services available. According to Probe Research, there are six carriers in the world offering 3G service, with Japan’s NTT DoCoMo having the oldest and most widely known service. A handful of other carriers have 3G offerings, but limited handset availability.
Radvision does have some competition with Ericsson, which is testing its Video Gateway System in Italy, Hong Kong and the U.K.
Doron and Radvision say video is the ultimate application for the 3G networks, but Richard Endersby, vice president of Internet access and edge infrastructure at Probe Research, says other factors besides video will drive 3G first.
“In theory, I think that video would/should be a driving force, but I have reservations as to how well carriers will be able to deliver it to users given constraints of network coverage, data rates and cost, etc., in the near term,” Endersby says. “Gaming, music downloads, richer messaging, location-based services, I think will be nearer-term drivers.”
Currently, Radvision is targeting its new gateway at large corporations, cellular operators and traditional ISPs. The gateway, which is based on the same chassis as its IP-to-ISDN product, comes with SNMP and quality-of-service support as well as support for IP to 3G-324M dial plans that interprets the route from getting from the IP side to the cellular phone.
Pricing for the ViaIP GW-P20/M Gateway starts at US$46,900 for the gateway card and $6,000 for the chassis to put the card in. Radvision customers with a VIP400 chassis can use the gateway card with their existing hardware.