Madge unveils LAN-based videoconferencing switch

Madge Networks Inc. introduced today a switch that will let users connect local-area network-based videoconferencing systems with Integrated Services Digital Network-based infrastructures.

Called the Madge LAN Video Gateway the product is a stackable switch that translates a H.323 LAN packet into a H.320 frame which is the recently ratified standard for video over ISDN networks. This approach allows Ethernet and Token Ring-attached workstations to conduct videoconferencing sessions with desktops that are not on the LAN but across the campus or the country.

"A lot of government buildings have a LAN infrastructure in place " said Chris Guillaudeu federal sales account manager at Madge. "With the LAN Video Gateway PCs on a LAN can now get to any PC that has a [video] codec in it. Users can go from videoconferencing on a LAN over the wide-area network - over FTS 2000 for example - and talk to someone across the country."

"The H.320 standard has helped the [videoconferencing] market to grow " said Gavin Warnes product marketing manager for Madge's WAN Access Division. In general desktop videoconferencing is becoming more popular because the cost of connections and video codecs are falling he added. While the Internet is an option for connecting users throughout the country it is not reliable nor does it offer enough bandwidth. The LAN Video Gateway acts like a "small video PBX " Warnes said providing four Ethernet or Token Ring ports and four ISDN basic rate interface or V.35 ports. It supports four concurrent calls and connects up to four subnets and it comes with Gatekeeper software which provides several call-control features.

"Gatekeeper knows who the users are whether they are busy on another call and what rights they have " Warnes said. "It defines the rules to manage the networks and sets the maximum amount of traffic on the network. It also routes calls between subnets."

The announcement is significant because it "allows you to do videoconferencing outside of the building or campus and to have true videoconferencing on the corporate level around the globe " said Martha Young principal at the Cutting Edge Information Group Golden Colo. The product is important to the company because it is the last piece of Madge's strategy to offer a complete LAN-to-WAN video solution. "That piece was missing before " she said.

Madge said the LAN Video Gateway interoperates with videoconferencing products from Intel Corp. Microsoft Corp. PictureTel Inc. and others. These companies also support the H.323 standard.

The product will be available on Madge's General Services Administration schedule within the next six weeks.

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