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Meru Announces Utility To Optimize Video Delivered over Wireless

Meru Networks has introduced a wireless local area network product optimized for delivering high-quality video over 802.11n networks running its System Director software. Meru's Video Services Module (ViSM) is designed to address video-delivery issues specific to 802.11n networks, which, the company said, are susceptible to unpredictable loss rates that can impair video quality. The module applies application-aware optimization techniques to Web streaming and real-time multicast video, the technologies used for such uses as videoconferencing, telepresence, and video surveillance.

"Video-based applications are becoming pervasive in schools, health-care institutions and other enterprises because they boost productivity significantly for a relatively low cost," said Vaduvur Bharghavan, Meru's chief technology officer. "But high-definition video delivery over wireless is especially challenging because it combines the high bandwidth requirements of heavy data traffic with the delay sensitivity and loss characteristics of voice traffic. And while 802.11n dramatically increases available bandwidth, it also increases per-transmission error rates. For multicast applications this translates to lost portions of video; for Web video streaming it can mean stalled video or the loss of voice-video synchronization.

The Meru Video Services Module uses several mechanisms to deliver video traffic based on application and user characteristics, allowing scaling to large numbers of concurrent video sessions.

Application-aware prioritization synchronizes the voice and video components of a video stream, adapting the delivery of each frame based on its importance to the application. Higher-priority MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 marked frames are transmitted with greater assurance of reliability and timeliness.

  • User- and role-based policy enforcement provides control over application behavior. For example, faculty video access can be assigned higher priority than students.
  • Handoff reroutes delivery to prevent lost video frames during a transition between access points and maximizes zero-loss for mobile video.
  • Multicast group management optimizes delivery to only those virtual ports whose clients are members of the multicast group.
  • Graphical visualization shows which clients are running which applications (data, voice, and video) to aid in monitoring network-wide application performance.

Several customers have been using Meru video optimization techniques on their Meru 802.11a/b/g WLANs and plan to deploy the new Video Services Module.

Frank Rodriguez, IT director at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, which uses Meru in its 30 buildings, said, "Video over wireless is becoming an essential component of our operation. For example, we are using a mobile robot that allows a doctor in a remote location to see and assist in medical procedures. The Meru WLAN has been remarkably stable and reliable as we've brought on more and more multimedia applications, and the new 802.11n video optimization capability will let us make even more dramatic improvements in patient care."

The Meru Video Services Module will be available in June 2009 as an add-on to Meru's System Director software. System Director, which can already be combined with modules for voice services and policy enforcement, is embedded in Meru's controllers and access points. For a network with 100 wireless access points, the new module is priced at $7,995.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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