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Multi Conferencing Units (MCUs)

Common man’s definition –
If we desire to connect more than 2 sites in a single video conferencing session, then we need a device called Multi Conferencing Units [MCU]. Some manufacturers now provide MCUs in-built in their systems and can connect upto 6 sites in one session. However, if one desires for more flexibility and/or more sites to be connected, then an external MCU is required.

Intro –
To handle live video and audio links between three or more locations, the H.323 standard introduces the concept of a Multipoint Control Unit (MCU). The MCU can be thought of as a “video bridge". The MCU connects to the Internet and registers with the gatekeeper. A MCU, depending on its design capacity, can handle a certain number of simultaneous videoconferences each with each videoconference being logically separate from the others and with each having a specified number of users.

When users want to join a particular videoconferencing session, they dial the service number/password combination. The gatekeeper checks to see if that service has been registered by a MCU. The gatekeeper completes the call by connecting the client to the specified videoconference on the MCU.

Trend –
The flexibility of these devices is amazing and makes a multi conference VC session look like child’s play. Not only can you add and drop participants with a few clicks, you can also organize a separate and private session for few participants within a conference. There is theoretically no upper limit to the number of sites that can be connected simultaneously provided the adequate bandwidth and the end points are available. The MCUs are capable of connecting sites across varying networks (ISDN and IP) and also across varying bandwidths.

Options/USPs –

  • Connect multiple VC locations using
    • Any Codec!
    • Any Speed!
    • Any Layout!
  • 3G/GPRS Gateway options - to include cell phones
  • Built-in streaming server available
  • Firewall solutions available
  • CIF/4CIF resolution
  • Bandwidth per site - up to 4 Mbits/s
  • VC Processing done per port
  • Continuous Presence, Transcoding & Rate Matching are all automatic

Catalogs –

Codian-MCU4200-Datasheet
Polycom MGC 25, 50 & 100
Tandberg MCU

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