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User's idea brings trial of ISDN video.


You know ISDN is picking up speed when users, not vendors, come up with innovative ways to put it to work.

That's how a pilot project began at Pittsburgh-based Mellon Bank, one of the 20 largest U.S. bank holding companies.

Wayne Clifton, network research manager, was looking into ISDN possibilities when he thought of videoconferences.

Mellon had tried videoconferencing before, unsuccessfully, but kept looking.

"We first looked at using our T1 network," explains Susan Ball, client development manager. "We thought of switched 56 as an alternative.

"We had this ISDN project independent of the video project. Wayne called all the vendors together and told them what we'd really like to do."

The result was a multivendor trial for conferences between ISDN for conferences between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, where Mellon is buying 54 branches of another bank.

On each end is a portable video cart with a 25-inch TV monitor, speakers, a video camera, computer and communications equipment, including a Picture Tel codec.

A high-speed Fujitsu terminal adapter provides dial-up access through Bell Atlantic's ISDN network and MCI's digital switched network.

What Mellon gets is two-way video just short of full motion. There is a slight video delay, but it isn't hard to get used to, says Ball.

Rate Adaption

The codec produces a 112 kb/s signal that comes to the terminal adapter as separate 56 kb/s channels.

They are each rate adapted, or stuffed with empty bits, to fill them to 64 kb/s.

Bell Atlantic's AT&T 5ESS switch removes those null characters, replacing them with 8 kb/s, half the D channel, which had been traveling out-of-band.

The connection to MCI's Northern Telecom DMS-250 switch is at 56 kb/s for transport and 8 kb/s, back in-band, for signaling.

Mellon's T1 network could be used for videoconferencing whenever possible, says Ball, but there are many off-network sites that are candidates for ISDN videoconferencing.

"It's veappealing to look at ISDN because of the local access cost issue with the switced 56 service," says Ball, ISDN connections would cost $20 to $40, one-tenth the cost of switched 56 connections, she says.

The system is in use 80% to 90% of office hours, says Ball, but the price during the trial can't be beaten.

"You have to understand, it's free right now," she says. "Our goal was to get into the room and set the technology, see if it's something that really could work. Then when it comes time to pay, our users would be willing to pay."

Clifton says there are a couple of other ISDN pilots at Mellon, one using ICL personal-computer-based hardware in a cash management and customer service application. The company is using about 50 ISDN lines.

Ball is impressed so far with the videoconferencing setup:

"From a customer perspective, when you start to test something, a have it come up in two hours and not have a problem since that days, that's pretty impressive."
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Mellon Bank Network Research Mgr Wayne Clifton stimulates Integrated Systems Digital Network video conferencing trial
Author:Tanzillo, Kevin
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:column
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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