Cisco & Tata ‘democratize’ high-def video conferencing

telepresence

Cisco Systems’s TelePresence system is a life-like high definition conferencing facility which allows participants to meet eachother across a virtual table. Cisco claims that its TelePresence system comes closer to the face-to-face experience that other solutions have been lacking sofar. Until recently, a private Cisco TelePresence system was only available to business customers at prices ranging from USD 34,000 for a simple set to USD 300,000 for a full-blown system capable of hosting 18 persons.

Cisco now aims to broaden the use of its technology by introducing public video conferencing rooms for rent in a partnership with Tata Communications from India, expanding the telepresence market to small and mid-sized businesses. Cisco will provide the TelePresence equipment, whereas Tata Communications will provide the connectivity services that will link the various TelePresence sites. The service is available for USD 299 to USD 899 per hour, depending on the size of the room. The move follows a similar initiative in the U.S. by Hewlett Packard and Marriott International in March last year, to make HP’s video-conferencing technology, known as Halo, available to the public at selected Marriott hotels.

Public TelePresence rooms are currently located at Taj Hotels in New York, Boston, London, Mumbai, and Bangalore, and at the Confederation of Indian Industry-offices in Chennai, Hyderabad and Gurgaon. Planned new locations include New York and the Philippines (in cooperation with local telecom provicer PLDT). In total, Tata Communications plans to open 100 rooms by the end of 2009, expanding the network of connected TelePresence rooms. This network currently consists of 300 internal rooms at Cisco and more than 1,000 rooms installed at over 200 customers worldwide.

In these times of restriced corporate travel policies and environmental awareness of the impact of air travel, the public Telepresence rooms should appeal to businesses that want to save money and/or lower overall CO2 emissions by reducing the need for travel.

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