Education service brings educators and research experts together through extensive offerings in HD video conferencing.

Education service brings educators and research experts together through cost effective HD video conferencing and multipoint call cooperative.


When U.S. researchers and educators need to collaborate with colleagues across the country or around the world, they turn to the Internet2 Network. An advanced hybrid optical and packet network that delivers 100Gb per second bandwidth, the network provides Internet2 consortium members with access to collaborative applications, distributed research experiments, grid-based data analysis, and social networking.

Among the consortium’s services is Internet2 Commons, an H.323 video conferencing infrastructure that members use daily for distance learning, remote fine arts performances, video-enriched special events, and collaborative research among Internet2 members and industry partners.

In an era of budget cuts and limited resources, Internet2 collaborates with Polycom to deliver on the concept of location liberation by enabling thousands of individuals to defy the boundaries of distance, cost and time. Polycom’s infrastructure solutions power a range of Internet2 commons services, including multipoint bridging and video conference recording and streaming. Internet2 Commons also leverages a variety Polycom endpoints, including high-definition (HD) telepresence and desktop solutions.

And with open standards-based Polycom systems powering its video communications backbone, Internet2 Commons members can use any video conferencing solution they have in place—further lowering their costs and increasing the value that Polycom delivers.

Enabling Collaboration, Everywhere

“We’re at a tipping point where improvements in ease of use, quality, reliability and bandwidth consumption have made video communications realistic for any organization,” says Ben Fineman, manager of Internet2 Commons. “We’re leveraging these trends to help members expand their reach across the country or around the world, without incurring the costs required to establish their own high-bandwidth video conferencing infrastructures.”

Internet2 Commons offers its 30 members such services as multipoint video conferencing, global dialing, and site coordinator training. But the diversity of Internet2 Commons’ users—some members may have 300 video conferencing endpoints, while others may have 3,000—poses unique challenges to the network’s administrators. That’s why Fineman’s team deployed the Polycom RMX 2000 real-time multimedia conference platform.

Answering a Need for Interoperability

“Polycom has always been a strong partner with Internet2 in terms of interoperability,” he says. Like all Polycom solutions, the RMX 2000 is based on open standards, so even users with competing video communications systems aren’t shut out of the conversation. The same is true for 15 Polycom video conferencing and telepresence systems in place throughout the Internet2 internal ecosystem. “We’ve always been impressed with Polycom’s dedication to standards-based technology,” he added.

Other solutions—including Polycom Video Border Proxy (VBP) firewall traversal and Polycom RSS server solutions—ensure Internet2 Commons can reliably and easily connect members with external parties while offering on-demand recording and streaming. For service and support, Internet2 relies on SKC Communications, a Polycom Platinum Partner.

Ease of use is another plus: “With Polycom, users can walk into a conference room and connect without needing help from a technician. Polycom’s ease of use and its reliability make Internet2 Commons that much more accessible.”

Accessibility is key for the service, which racked up 16,326 port hours of use in 2008. Members use the network to extend the effectiveness of their organizations while still adhering to tight travel and IT budgets. Typical uses include:

Research: This is a particularly popular use of universities and research organizations, and their industry partners. The Microsoft® Research ConferenceXP network platform, fruit of an open source collaboration initiative, is one such application.

Distance learning: Universities access the network to cost-effectively deliver classes to remote students, while K-12 schools around the world engage in virtual field trips, interact with guest speakers, and more.

Performing arts: Master classes and performances make use of such unique features as Polycom UltimateHD audio and video technology, and the Polycom Music Mode option, a standard feature on Polycom HDX series systems that more faithfully reproduces live music picked up by microphones: “Music Mode is a great example of how Polycom listens to users and accommodates their needs.”

Sharing HD video, audio, and content can make a big impact. At Internet2’s 2010 Spring Conference in Arlington, Virginia, attendees used Polycom telepresence to virtually travel to the proposed Deep Underground Science and Engineering Lab (DUSEL), located nearly a mile underground in South Dakota’s former Homestake mine. As Polycom HDX room telepresence systems enabled South Dakota Governor M. Michael Rounds to converse face-to-face from his office with scientists in the lab, the Arlington audience watched it all unfold in full 1080p HD.

Fineman’s team is also testing Polycom Converged Management Application (CMA) Desktop client software, which transforms any camera-equipped PC into a video conferencing system. “The thin-client approach is the wave of the future,” says Fineman. “Polycom is right there with a standards-based solution that lets the video conferencing application reside in the cloud, so anyone can join the collaboration.”

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