Videoconferencing Vendors Focus On Infrastructure

Sony Electronics said it is partnering with Radvision to offer complete videoconferencing solutions through its channel partners.

Under the agreement, part of Sony's Open Conferencing initiative, Sony and its solution providers will sell its videoconferencing endpoints bundled with Radvision's videoconferencing infrastructure and middleware, including Radvision's gateways, gatekeepers, MCUs and management software.

"Sony traditionally has been an endpoint provider. Now we'll be able to offer a full solution through a single point," said Eric Murphy, manager of business development for Sony Electronics, Park Ridge, NJ.

Sony plans to offer optional training to its partners on the Radvision products, which are slated for availability through Sony on June 16, Murphy said.

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Critical to the partnership is both vendors' reliance on standards, Murphy said, pointing to Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), an emerging call control standard, the H.323 real-time communications-over-IP standard, the new H.264 video compression standard and the new H.239 standard for sharing data during video calls.

Tandberg, for its part, launched a new high-end multipoint control unit (MCU) dubbed the Media Processing System, which supports IP-based videoconferencing for large enterprises and service providers. The new system supports 48 video ports and 48 audio ports, enabling customers to connect large groups of users. Until now, the company has only offered an MCU aimed at small and mid-size businesses.

"We certainly see interest in large conferences is increasing as large enterprises are adopting visual communications more and more," said Hakon Dahle, chief technologies at Tandberg, New York. The new system is also aimed at federal, military and education customers, he said.

It will be available July 12 for a list price of $146,000. Tandberg plans to add support for ISDN and V.35-based videoconferencing later this year. Tandberg also launched version 9 of its Tandberg Management Suite.

In addition to the Radvision partnership, Sony also rolled out several new video endpoints, including the PCS-TL50, an all-in-one unit for personal executive communications or small meeting rooms that integrates a pan-tilt-zoom camera with a 20-inch wide LCD display that doubles as a PC monitor. The system also includes a microphone and speakers. It is slated for availability this fall for a list price under $5,000.

Sony also introduced the PCS-G70 series for large conference rooms. It is slated to debut this fall starting under $10,000.