ATLANTA (05/23/2000) - At the CLECExpo, Accord Networks Inc. will announce a Web-based interface for its top-line multipoint conferencing unit that lets service providers and large enterprises offer self-service video applications.
The new Web Commander product works in conjunction with Accord's MGC-100 MCU and lets users set up virtual chat rooms, classrooms and videoconferences between multiple participants without having to go through an operator. Users log on to the service then can program in whom they want included in the conference. Commander then works with the MGC-100 to connect all the participants.
Once a session is started, the user that initiates the conference has full control over it via a Web browser and can add or remove users on the fly. User also can select the look and feel of the conference, laying out the video windows in a "Brady Bunch" fashion or having a single window showing the active speaker.
"Even though the scheduling is happening on the Internet, we do not care what network each end user is on," says Philip Keenan, senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at Accord. "Whether you're coming across ISDN, IP or POTS, we act as a gateway and can transcode across the network. We make this invisible to the end user."
This means a conference can include ISDN and IP-based endpoints without the users having any idea who is on what system.
Video-On, a multimedia service provider based in Boulder, Colo., is using Web Commander to reduce the need for its customers to call a service representative each time a conference needs to be set up. "We assign 'producers' to facilitate calls for each customer," explains Matt Harding, director of operations for Video-On. "[Web Commander] gives customers the ability to bypass all that and start a videoconference immediately."
Harding says the service is good for workgroup and spontaneous meetings between small groups of people.
Though Web Commander is primarily targeted at the service provider market, Accord will sell to those enterprise customers that want to act as its own application service provider. The product comes in two components: Scheduler, for scheduling and launching ad hoc conferences, and Director, which allows end users to control the conference, including adding and removing users. Schedule is priced at $10,000 and Director is available for $15,000.