Polycom aims to lower SOHO videoconferencing costs

Video Border Proxy 200 combines video with other small-office networking features.

Polycom is announcing at Interop Las Vegas a new small office/home office router tuned specifically for low-cost, high-quality videoconferencing.

Called Video Border Proxy (VBP) 200, the device supports a firewall, network-address translation, DHCP and QoS; and provides support specifically for video. It also includes a wireless access point.

"This is like a cable TV or DSL router, but it has code to let you be part of a videoconference," says Ira Weinstein, an analyst with Wainhouse Research. VBP 200 prioritizes video and audio packets over data packets to make the most of home broadband connections of 256K to 512Kbps.

Deploying separate router, firewalls and VPNs as a way to achieve the same features is more complex and costly, Weinstein adds.

The VBP 200 is designed to work in tandem with Polycom's V 700 video monitor-microphone-speaker unit to support business-quality videoconferencing for a price of less than US$4,000. Weinstein says such other vendors as Direct Packet Research offer similar systems for less, but they don't have as much throughput as the new Polycom package. The VBP 200 is expected to be available in June.

In addition, Polycom is announcing it is adding its lost-packet recovery (LPR) technology to Version 9.0 of its VSX software, which runs its videoconferencing gear, to improve audio and video quality. LPR uses forward error-correction to make up for lost packets and prevent audio and video from breaking up.

Weinstein says lab tests he performed show that LPR is effective for as much as 5% of intermittent packet loss. If packet loss is sustained, the conferencing gear throttles back on the number of packets it sends, he says.

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