Cisco presents TelePresence

Cisco TelePresence promises ‘In-Person' enterprise video conferencing

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By  Mark Sutton Published  October 10, 2007

Cisco has announced the availability of its new Cisco TelePresence solution, which it says provides a ground-breaking experience in conferencing.

The TelePresence solution includes video, audio and IP communication elements, and is aimed at giving enterprises a high-end conferencing solution that will help them increase collaboration and drastically reduce business travel.

By utilising ultra-high definition video over high bandwidth connection and low latency, Cisco TelePresence creates a highly immersive environment which gives the impression of being in the same room as the other meeting participants.

Andrew Elder, managing director of Enterprise and Advanced Technology, Cisco said: "Our enterprise customers really see the business value in Cisco's TelePresence as it allows the same in-person meeting experience without the cost, risk and inconvenience of travel. The combination of networking, audio and video technology has resulted in picture resolutions that are six times that of the consumer HD television experience creating truly ground breaking experience for our customers."

The company says that it has one site in the Middle East that will go live next month, with a further ten to fifteen sites launching in the next three months.

Cisco's own deployment of telepresence began in October 2006, and now extends to 130 sites in major cities around the world. Cisco says that it has replaced nearly 6,000 travel meetings with TelePresence meetings, creating $46.99 million in travel savings.

Overall the company predicts that is will create cost savings of $240 million over three years, through improved sales success rate, reduction in sales cycle time, travel savings, productivity gains and cost avoidance in services, from an initial set cost of $72 million.

Cisco TelePresence 3000 consists of three 65" plasma screens arranged along one side of a meeting table, which seats six people facing the screens. A fixed position camera covers the entire room, with discrete microphones providing multi-channel audio. The solution is integrated with Cisco IP Telephony to provide easy management of conferencing, with other proprietary technologies to reduce latency and manage other elements of the service.

The solution is designed for permanent installation at the client site, and is then used in tandem with a second TelePresence suites deployed at another site. Up to twelve people, six at each site, are then able to participate in each meeting. For smaller spaces, Cisco is offering the TelePresence 1000, a single screen solution, which can conference with the larger model.

Samer Alkharrat, managing director of Cisco Gulf and Pakistan commented: "As companies are becoming increasingly global in scale and with a growing number of organizations operating in the region, TelePresence will start replacing remote experiences and capturing important interactions by creating a human experience that is so immersive and realistic that it becomes as good as being there."

The solution is designed for high-end enterprise usage, although the company says that it will develop tailored solutions for different verticals in the future. A basic deployment of two TelePresence 3000 suites costs in the region of $500,000, and the user also requires Cisco IP telephony, leased or dedicated line level bandwidth, and a full network audit and site survey to assess elements such as acoustics, room design and so on.

Alkharrat says that such a thorough preparation process is necessary to ensure the full immersive experience, but that customers in the region are showing a lot of interest in the ability to cut costs and save travel time. The company is also promoting the positive benefits on staff welfare of helping reduce business travel, and the potential to reduce the environmental impact of travel.

"People sometimes travel two, two and a half days just for a two hour meeting, so it's much more beneficial to the company in terms of getting the most productivity from that person, to eliminate that travel," he said.

Cisco is bolstering its channel in the region to deliver TelePresence solutions, with the Cisco TelePresence Advanced Technology Provider (ATP) Program, with two partners in region qualified so far, and a third expected to qualify soon. Cisco also says it is talking to service providers in the region about the possibility of providing TelePresence as a service.

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