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Rich Tehrani

[April 29, 2004]

Breakthrough! Videoconferencing Over 20 Kbps



Editor's Note: This is the eleventh in a series of short articles from Rich Tehrani based on recent visits with a number of VoIP vendors. The previous article is available here.

 Sidebar: Q&A With Santa Cruz Networks

There are so many ways of looking at VoIP and that must have been what got Santa Cruz Networks (news) (not to be confused with Santa Cruz Operation (news) of the Linux lawsuit fame) into the market. On the face of it all, they have a simple application, a platform for sharing voice, video, data and documents with presence built in. What begins to differentiate the service is the ability to have 200 people on an IP call using a single system (keep reading, it can scale even further). This is an impressive number.

The product name that allows this capability is the Real-Time Communications Exchange (RTCX). At the moment, all clients on this product are restricted to Windows. RTCX has lots of features, some of which are graphically pleasing such as the ability to drag the video screen around your monitor (the GUI is object based).

What really makes RTCX interesting to me is that it doesn�t use UDP to transmit packets, it uses TCP while taking advantage of SSL. They further use multiple sessions to send packets -- sort of like spread spectrum in the wireless field. Audio is sent multiple times over multiple sessions. You can have an effective communications session in as little as 20 Kbps and the system checks the network every 30 milliseconds and adjusts accordingly. Another advantage of TCP is that it passes easily through firewalls and doesn�t require punching holes in existing ones or the purchase of new firewalls.

I did get a chance to demo the service briefly on a congested network and was surprised at how good the quality was� Both video and audio. I now have a demo account and it is my hope to write about my experiences soon in an article or my BLOG.

The product is available to service providers as well as resellers and enterprises. The company is further interested in making their RTXP or real-time exchange protocol into an open standard, so it could eventually interoperate with SIP for example.

The cost for an enterprise of 2,000 users is $85,000, while service providers pay $100,000 for that many users. You can buy the solution as software, hardware or a service. The company impressed upon me that peer-to-peer products are great until you want to scale. At 20,000 users at a time (Nine Call Extension Units (CXUs) make this happen), we are talking serious scale here.

 Sidebar: Q&A With Santa Cruz Networks

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