Video Conferencing Mart Gets New Units

FRAMINGHAM (07/25/2000) - Companies looking for a new multipoint conference unit have more choices this week with the new MGC-50 from Accord Networks Inc. and added voice-over-IP support from Lucent's Avaya spinoff.

Accord's MGC-50 is the younger sibling of the more powerful MGC-100. Both units support IP-based video and audio conferencing between multiple endpoints. The units also can be used as gateways that bridge ISDN, ATM and IP-based systems into a single call. The MGC-50 supports between six and 48 audio and/or video endpoint users on a single box. Both boxes can be networked together for increased user support.

Accord offers three products, MGC Manager, MGC WebCommander and Touch Tone Conferencing, to manage either single MGC-50 or a network of boxes, be they MGC-50s or MGC-100s. WebCommander allows administrators on a Windows NT platform to manage the MCU remotely. Users have several screen layout options to choose from while the MCU ensures that each conference participant is connected at common speed.

Lucent's soon-to-be Avaya spinoff announced that Version 7.0 of its MCU products now support voice over IP via the H.323 conferencing protocol. Video H.323 support is still a bit down the road, according to Lucent. Version 7.0 of the MCU does feature speed matching, allowing multiple endpoints running at different connection rates to participate in the same conference. The units are said to handle up to 16 video images on the screen at the same time.

The company also says it will lower the price of its MCU lines by 20% to 40% and offer new customers 1 year of free software upgrades. Avaya offers three MCUs, the CX with 12 ports, the DX with 64 ports and the EX with 96 ports.

Pricing starts at $19,950.

Pricing for the Accord MGC-50 starts at $48,800.

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