Comparing the Tandberg & Polycom MCUs

May 21, 2007 Update:  See the latest comments on my bridge here.

Please note this was originally written in May 2006 and versions have changed since then. See the comments section for TANDBERG’s response. – Note added March 2007.

First Things First
First before I write about some comparisons, let me describe my base assumptions and biases.

1. My use of videoconferencing is almost totally connecting with
“unmanaged” units, or places outside of my service area. These are
other schools that connect in a myriad of ways, and who don’t
particularly want to be registered to my gatekeeper, because I connect
to them only once or twice a year. Some connect through bridges
(Radvision, Polycom MGCs, old Accords, etc.), some connect directly,
some connect via IP, and some connect via ISDN. Read Across America, MysteryQuest, and other such projects and events are what we do with videoconferencing. Hence
I connect with a ton of unknown units all the time. And I expect that
to work consistently (with a test call ahead of time of course!).

2. As an educational service agency supporting videoconferencing, I
expect my MCU to be able to connect to anything. My goal with my MCU is
to provide services and connections to my districts that they could not
do on their own: multipoint events, IP/ISDN conversion, connections
they can’t make on their own.

And some background. I have 35 (soon to be 70) Polycom endpoints and a Tandberg
MPS (vJ3.0), gateway, gatekeeper and Tandberg Management Suite (TMS). The comparison is with my colleague Arnie Comer‘s
bridge: an Polycom MGC 100 and he supports 140 Tandberg endpoints. We both use our bridges as described above.

This comparison is not on all the features that either bridge can
do, but on the features necessary to support K12 videoconferencing as
described above.


  Polycom MGC 100
Software Rev 6.02
Tandberg MPS
Software Rev J3.0

So I have come to the conclusion that the Polycom MCU is the
workhorse of videoconferencing, connecting all types of units together.
The Tandberg bridge seems to be heading towards a closed network model
with great wonderful fancy features for closed networks. But it does
not handle IP address dialing well at all and the company
doesn’t seem to be designing their systems to support IP address dialing.

Disclosure Statement: Polycom is sponsoring the BCISD Videoconference Program Database. They also link to my blog. However, they do not dictate, edit, or preapprove anything I write here.

0 replies on “Comparing the Tandberg & Polycom MCUs”

  1. I have been using Poly com since last 1 and half years, And its seemed very muchuser friendly , error reporting is excellent in Polycom MGC.

  2. Some comments on the above. It’s being stated that “IP address dialing only works into one conference”, and …they can only dial
    into conference 1.”

    In J3.3 you can configure Single Dial In Number with the IP address of the System Controller Board and start Ad-Hoc conferences. You can get access to ongoing Ad-Hoc conferences by calling the same IP address.

    Additionally you can configure the MPS so that one will be routed to one of the static conferences by calling the IP address of the MPS.

    In the next release it will be possible to access all types (static, Ad-Hoc & Personal) conferences by calling the IP address that is configured for Single Dial In Number.

    The statement about error reporting, “There isn’t a minute by minute error reporting accessible in the web interface”, and “It’s hard to tell why a site disconnected or didn’t connect in the first place” is not correct.

    By clicking on the participants in the Conference Overview window you will get a detailed live reporting on packet loss and jitter for both video and audio and which type of video and audio codecs are in use. In addition the MPS gives the Disconnect Cause when a site disconnects.

    Hope the above helps to understand that the TANDBERG MPS is a very capable MCU!

    Best regards

    Martin Hartog

  3. Thanks so much for adding additional information, Martin. I look forward to the new release and hope that it addresses some of the dialing issues.

    I’ve found that many of the places I connect with need to dial out due to their firewall settings, and they also need to dial just an IP address. Older units can’t always do the conference number dialing with tones. I do wish that other sites could dial in with just the IP address and land in the conference they are supposed to be in. Maybe this is coming in the next version.

  4. Just getting into Videoconferencing.

    I am looking for what company to deal with if this is my needs

    1)hookup 2 board rooms each end point connected viia a VPN tunnel.
    2)I want it to be economical BUT I want to grow to video phones and connections to vendors when VC becomes more popular.
    3)It has to be cheap and we need to have it a long time to max ROI

    What should I buy?

    Joseph Duczman

  5. We just want to find people who would like to try out their equipment to different sites. Check the stats. Se what kind of performance they are getting.
    I have searched for days and so far only have a few units set for auto answer pointed out windows to see a highway or a clock on the wall.

    I guess I am just curious about the different levels of performance but it is totally amazing to me that there are not “User Groups” out there who would love to be able to do the same thing.

    Like a list of email addresses where we can swap IP’s or even a list of open IP’s with REAL PEOPLE at the other end.

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