Embarking on a two-year phase-in of new teleconferencing and videoconferencing systems, the University of Wisconsin (UW) Colleges – a network of 13 two-year, freshman and sophomore sub-campuses under the University of Wisconsin – is in the beginning stages of upgrading all of its conferencing capabilities at each of its satellite campuses across the state. The first phase started this summer and will be completed before classes begin in September. The next phase will be completed by the end of summer 2008.
Each UW College campus hosts a distance conferencing classroom to provide students greater access to instructors with specific skills sets – i.e. foreign languages or medical courses
"Our main goal is to replace our antiquated audio conferencing processors with Biamp's high-definition audio Nexia VC and TC processors," said Scott Bouffleur, UW Non Online Distance Education (NODE) Coordinator. "In nearly every conferencing room we've installed a single Nexia VC alongside a Nexia TC to facilitate both videoconferencing and teleconferencing with Biamp's TrueSound™ Acoustic Echo Cancellation capabilities. In rooms with more than sixteen microphones, we're using two Nexia VC units with a single Nexia TC. So far the installation has progressed very smoothly and we're quite pleased with the performance of the Nexias."
The Nexia® VC processors interface with Polycom video codecs to aggregate incoming audio and mix and route those signals accordingly. In each room, the instructor has a number of different source inputs to choose from at the podium, including a computer input, a DVD player and a CD player. The Nexias' built-in TrueSound AEC algorithm provides high-quality acoustic echo cancellation so that microphones in close proximity to each other and to speakers in the room are not re-transmitting incoming audio or clipping other audio signals. The Crestron control panel in each room is used to control room volume via the Nexia, as well as switch between input sources, among other functions.
Bouffleur noted, "In addition to integrating the Nexia processors, we are also upgrading our Crestron control systems so that we can utilize the network-friendly functionality of the Nexia and Crestron eControls. With these new Biamp and Crestron components we can access all of our system settings via IP and we can upload new configurations quickly and remotely, saving us a lot of time and energy by not having to visit each campus separately."
With regard to the Biamp Nexia VC and TC, Bouffleur recounts that the price point was what initially attracted UW Colleges. "As a state entity, we have to be very selective with how we use our allotted funds. We realized the Nexia price would free up some additional budget to install other components in the system, and then, when we actually heard it perform, we placed an order right away."
"Additionally, we've identified some newer videoconferencing units with HD capabilities that we may upgrade to in the future. The Nexias give us the flexibility to expand and upgrade to those solutions, if needed, and that is peace of mind that is extremely valuable for us."