Dialing Insanity is Here to Stay

Yesterday I spent some time talking to a sales engineer about how the new Polycom RMX bridge works. What I was most interested in is how the dialing works. The Codian and TANDBERG bridges use some variation of dialing and conference numbers depending on how they are configured. The new RMX is set up that way too. Polycom calls it an “ad hoc” conference bridge, although it can be work in a “scheduled environment” when installed with the ReadiManager SE 200.  This means the only bridge left that allows “direct inward internet dialing” (i.e. call an IP address and get dropped into the right conference) is the Polycom MGC. Please correct me if I’m wrong by commenting below. And if you’re reading this post, please check the comments for the full picture with potentially differing opinions!

Industry Trends
What I found intriguing to this conversation is the general trend of the videoconferencing industry.  A shift is happening from a centralized manager doing all the scheduling (a scheduled environment) to end users able to dial into the MCU/bridge and voila! their conference starts (ad hoc).

I think the other reason for this trend is a concern on the part of some vendors and security people regarding IP address dialing. My sense from reading the Megaconference listserv is that the education market isn’t too worried about this. But someone is, because I’m starting to hear from vendors that dialing IP addresses is a terrible thing. As that message gets to schools that don’t know any better, they’ll install solutions that create islands and difficult dialing.

Dialing History
We used to have ISDN numbers to dial, and they usually worked unless a 700 area code was involved. Then we had IP addresses, and many of us are pretty attached to that method of dialing. The new way is IP plus conference number or extension in some form. And some of us are having trouble adjusting to that. I’ve been fighting it and muttering about it for three years!  (see GDS Dialing, Dialing Insanity, Problems in K12 Dialing, etc. etc.)

Weird Dialing is Here; Now What?
Now that I realize the major players in the industry are all starting to use this IP plus conference/extension number dialing, I know I have to adjust my brain to it. Time to stop muttering. Time to instead think of solutions. So I’m starting to brainstorm some possible ways that we can help each other connect to each other. I’ve learned a few things already that I’ll share here now:

  • Gatekeepers strip off the ##extension if you try to dial IP ## extension. I thought it was just my Tandberg gatekeeper up till yesterday when I learned the Polycom V2IU does it too. Instead, the recommended method is to add extension@IP address to your address book and dial that way. This extension@IP address is called an NXO dial string.
  • Let’s say you’re trying to get a Tandberg endpoint to dial an IP ## extension to connect to a unit behind a Polycom V2IU. Make sure the V2IU is on the latest version. On the latest version you can use a feature called digit manipulation. The Tandberg can dial a * instead of a # and it will still connect.

I have a few other ideas simmering, so stay tuned. If you have any other ideas on how we can collaborate to make dialing each other less frustrating, please comment below. If you have any corrections to my notes here, please comment too!

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About Janine Lim

Janine Lim, PhD, currently serves as associate dean for online higher education in the School of Distance Education at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, MI. She and her team support over 200 online courses, provide training for faculty teaching online, and work with the campus infrastructure support of online learning. Her department also provides educational technology and Moodle support for faculty and students. In addition, Janine is responsible for the faculty and courses of the Consortium of Adventist Colleges and Universities. Janine has taught over 15 unique graduate educational technology classes online numerous times over the past 15 years, with some classes attracting participants from all over the world. Her undergraduate teaching includes social media courses for communication and digital media majors. Janine has served on the board of the United States Distance Learning Association since April 2015. Prior to her work at Andrews University, Janine coordinated distance education for 22 K12 school districts in southwest Michigan for 14 years. In that position, as one of the co-founders of TWICE, Michigan’s K12 Videoconferencing Organization, Janine has spearheaded popular international K12 videoconference projects such as Read Around the Planet and MysteryQuest. While still serving on the board of TWICE, she was instrumental in designing and implementing the CAPspace website for collaborative videoconference projects. Janine also served on a team of Michigan educational technology trainers providing a workshop called ATA Technology Academy. Her current online learning research interests include successful teacher behaviors, quality online discussions, and student activity patterns in self-paced courses.
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7 Responses to Dialing Insanity is Here to Stay

  1. Kevin Bernitz says:

    Interesting article. FYI – you can enter directly into a conference on a TANDBERG Codian bridge by calling just an IP if that is what you want to do. You need to use the Conference Director software to schedule your calls. Simply schedule your conference – add a participant into the conference and select the “Use Manual connect” and “Auto connect on dial in” options – and when that participant dials in they will auto-magically be placed into the correct conference.

    The TANDBERG Codian bridges also support dialing and being dialled by URI, @, IP : and probably plenty of other ways I cannot think of!

  2. Janine Lim says:

    Thanks for that update, Kevin! So are you saying the Codian can tell which conference participant the person belongs in based on the IP address?

  3. Noah says:

    Our organization has an MGC-100 (Polycom Bridge), PathNavigator (Polycom Gatekeeper), and V2IU (Polycom H323 Firewall) and I was experiencing this same problem calling from the MGC-100 through the PathNav gatekeeper and V2IU out over the internet to another site equipped with a V2IU and Polycom VSX 7000 camera. The calls from our MGC-100 were being rejected but yet I could connect to them from one of our organizations VSX 7000 cameras using the dialing string EXTENSION@IP with no trouble.

    After analyzing the other organization’s V2IU logs we were able to determine that the alias / extension we trying to pass to them was being stripped off before being sent out. I opened a ticket with our support team and here is the solution they gave me.

    In MGC Manager, under the other organization’s participant properties screen, under the identification tab, set the Participant IP to 0.0.0.0 and for the Alias Name put the entire dialing string (EXTENSION@IP), and for the Alias Type put Email ID.

    Hope this information helps someone else connect to a V2IU from their MGC-100 bridge.

  4. Janine Lim says:

    Noah – thanks for adding these details. I think we really need to keep sharing with each other!

  5. Kevin Bernitz says:

    Yup – the Codian bridges can do that.

    Take care!
    Kevin

  6. Salim says:

    Hello,
    It is possible with a TANDBERG CODIAN MCU.
    You have to attribute a numeric ID to your conference and users have to dial public IP@##numeric ID

    Salim

  7. Janine Lim says:

    I meant just dial an IP address – without anything else added. The Tandberg and Vtel units can’t do the IP##conference ID….

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