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AT&T in ‘life-size’ video conferencing venture
|22 апреля 2008|
AT&T, the US telecommunications group, is to launch a hosted life-size video-conferencing or ‘telepresence’ service for its corporate customers around the world this year using Cisco System’s high definition equipment.
The company, which announced the service on Monday, is betting that the market for telepresence services will continue to grow dramatically, fuelled in part by corporate concerns about the growing cost of travel and its impact on climate change and their belief that it can speed up and improve internal and external communications.
AT&T plans to launch the managed service, which uses the company’s global IP (internet protocol) backbone infrastructure and Cisco’s advanced telepresence systems, in the second half of 2008 in 23 countries and then expand the service globally next year.
“We see a big opportunity, not just to reduce the costs of global travel and (carbon) emissions, but to improve how companies communicate with their ecosystems of customers and partners,” said Joe Lueckenhoff, senior vice president of product management for AT&T.
In addition to enabling internal users to quickly and easily hold virtual 'in-person' meetings, the new AT&T service will also provide a “meet-me” feature that enables intercompany connectivity — a key component and industry-first feature that Cisco and AT&T claim distinguishes the service from any other telepresence offering available today.
Telepresence systems like those supplied by Cisco which AT&T will offer on a managed-service basis to its VPN (virtual private network) customers, are designed to create the illusion that participants are sitting in the same room together, even if they are actually continents apart.
Unlike traditional video-conferencing systems which have been around for years but have a reputation for being clunky, low quality and difficult to operate, demand for telepresence systems built around advanced telecoms technologies and large high definition flat panel displays, has been surging.
Last year Frost & Sullivan, the market research firm, projected that the global market for telepresence systems which can cost up to about $180,000 per location, would grow to $145m this year, up from $55m in 2006.
That growth, mostly driven to date by intra-company communications, is expected to accelerate as multinationals and other large companies begin to extend their use of telepresence to include customers and suppliers.
“To date we have been selling intra-company systems,” said Martin De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco's emerging technology group who is in charge of the networking giant’s 18-month old push into the telepresence market. “Adding a life-size video component takes communications to the next level.”
Mr De Beer claims Cisco’s systems, which cost from around $35,000 for a single set up system to about $185,000 for a three-screen system, are particularly easy to use and are distinguished by their audio and video quality. As a result he claims that the 750 telepresence systems the company has installed so far, including systems in more than 175 of its own telepresence rooms systems, are used on average for about five hours a day.
Источник: Financial Times