Polycom Boosts Conferencing Line


Polycom recently unveiled a slew of new products that further integrate audio and Web conferencing into its videoconferencing products.

"With this range of new announcements, there's more value for [partners] to sell," said Mike Seto, vice president of product management at Polycom, based here. "It also starts to create complementary product lines to expand sales."

After adding audio-conferencing capabilities to its MGC family of multipoint control units (MCUs) last fall, Polycom is now adding support for integrated Web collaboration. In addition, Polycom's MGC line now supports H.264, a forthcoming compression standard that provides higher-quality video over narrower bandwidths.

The MGC platform supports public switched telephone network (PSTN) and voice-over-IP audio calls, as well as ISDN and IP video calls.

Polycom also expanded its MCU family with the introduction of the MGC-25, a new low-end offering for small and midsize customers. The MGC-25 is scheduled for availability this quarter and is slated to start at $22,000.

In addition, the vendor added new videoconferencing end points to its lineup, including the ViewStation EX for midrange deployments, which starts at $6,499, and the Executive Collection, a group of four new top-quality systems that use 50-inch to 61-inch high-resolution plasma displays and high-fidelity audio systems, starting at $49,999. Both offerings are scheduled for availability this quarter.

Polycom also introduced Conference Suite 5.0, the latest version of its call scheduling and management software, which now includes scheduling through Microsoft Outlook, network bandwidth reservation and multiplatform conferencing equipment and MCU management capabilities. The suite is scheduled to ship this quarter starting at $19,999 for 25 devices.

"Part of the barrier to videoconferencing is that the applications are still difficult to [get a handle on] for the average user," said JD Vaughn, chief sales officer at Applied Global Technologies, a videoconferencing solution provider in Rockledge, Fla. "This makes it practically idiot-proof."

Polycom also introduced SoundStation VTX 1000, its first wide-band conference phone that delivers twice the audio fidelity of current offerings that use the narrow-band standard. In addition, the company unveiled the Polycom Enterprise Support program, a service package available through the vendor's channel partners. Through that program, partners can resell Polycom's worldwide support services to customers they otherwise could not support on their own, Polycom executives said.