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AV Integrators’ Go-To Resource for AVoIP and Networking Help

Published: April 29, 2024
The famed American Dream Mall is a prime example of the NETGEAR ProAV Design Team’s ability to troubleshoot even the most vexing issues and deliver a solution that dazzles.

Amid the continuing rise of AVoIP deployments and NETGEAR AV switches’ increasing ubiquity in commercial environments, integrators have had to increase their networking know-how. Thankfully, the integration community has a complimentary resource it can count on: the NETGEAR ProAV Design Team.

Here, CI chats with Alex Pendleton, pro AV manager for the team, to learn more about this indispensable resource for integrators tackling AVoIP.

NETGEAR ProAV Design Team: A Collection of Experts

Pendleton describes the team as a global collection of AVoIP experts capable of “…designing systems, validating designs, helping implement systems and doing configuration calls,” just to name a few core competencies. Tools like NETGEAR’s M4250 series switches are easy to configure, but a base level of networking knowledge is needed. “We’re here to help with that understanding, as well as help with the design of larger systems,” Pendleton explains.

The ProAV Design Team absorbs 300-plus unique contacts per day via proavdesign@netgear.com. The team of 28 guarantees a remarkable two-hour response window. (Actually, however, more typical response times range from 10 to 20 minutes.) “You’re getting a Level 3-plus, Level 4-capable technician from that response,” Pendleton states.

One reason for the frequent outreach, post-COVID-19, is the frequent segmentation of purchasing and procurement. “So,” Pendleton begins, “when [integrators design and deploy] in segments, they want to know, ‘Well, if I start here, do I have to do this later?’” He mentions that NETGEAR’s Engage Controller, which facilitates central management of NETGEAR AV switches, allows segmented network configuration. “Walking them through that is, I think, our biggest focus,” Pendleton adds.

NETGEAR ProAV Design Team: In the Trenches

The ProAV Design Team is happy to have numerous design calls to hash out issues. It’ll also collaborate with vendors like Crestron and Shure to ensure smooth integration and implementation. But Pendleton and his colleagues are willing to go deep in the trenches, as well, navigating rough sledding to make a system work. He points to the famed American Dream Mall as a prime example. “We had an integrator that was in pretty deep water in another manufacturer’s soup, if you will,” Pendleton recalls. The integrator onsite needed a bill of materials and a design — fast.

“So, we went ahead and designed it,” Pendleton says with a smile. The result is likely the largest system the team ever built — a remarkable 325×325 matrix. “We had this double-tier MLAG core with edge systems all coming into that core,” he recalls. “So, it was like any system to any system, whether it’s an encoder or decoder. We could just flip it at a moment’s notice.” Through that design and deployment, the ProAV Design Team identified the problem, understood the solution, got firmware created and deployed in 24 hours, and saved that system. “And they’ve been running it ever since,” Pendleton adds with pride.

In fact, to this day, Pendleton returns to the American Dream for ongoing system updates. “If there’s any scenarios we need to resolve, we’re right there to help them with it,” he declares.

Extensive Training Capabilities

Crestron reception area.

NETGEAR is always building out its partner network, having recently hit the milestone of 250 partners. The ProAV Design Team is always willing to collaborate with vendors, including here at the Crestron Singapore Experience Center.
Photo courtesy: NETGEAR.

Clearly, the ProAV Design Team seeks to be the principal resource for integrators tackling network-centric AVoIP deployments. Accordingly, it has dramatically ramped up its onsite training activities. “Almost every week, [we’re booked] with different trainings that we’re doing around the North American territory,” Pendleton says, noting that the team is currently booked through the beginning of July. A typical schedule would be four hours of training in the morning, followed by a catered lunch, followed by hands-on time with NETGEAR switches. To request training at any location, email teamproav@netgear.com.

The ProAV Design Team certainly keeps busy — and, if you ask Pendleton, he’ll tell you all that effort has paid dividends for NETGEAR’s pro AV business. “That’s how we’ve grown this business,” he emphasizes. “We focused on the customer.” Indeed, NETGEAR brought together a council of networking and AVoIP leaders and earnestly asked what they needed from a network manufacturer. “Listening to the customer has been our focus and our guide, and it’s not going to stop now,” he promises.

Pendleton believes there’s much for his team still to accomplish. He’d like to see increased ranks, refined processes and expanded validation testing with partner manufacturers. “We may have 250 partners right now, but that list continues to grow,” Pendleton adds. “We find new scenarios with manufacturers we haven’t worked with yet that might need to be resolved.”

But what NETGEAR’s ProAV Design Team has already achieved is remarkable and praiseworthy. “Truth be told,” Pendleton concludes, “once they contact us and go through their first system, usually, for their second, third and fourth systems, there’s very little they need to garner from us, if anything at all.” But rest assured: If a challenge arises, the ProAV Design Team will be there.

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Tagged with: AVoIP, Netgear

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