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Tata plans global rollout of public telepresence service

18 августа 2008

Indian operator aims to stimulate market for high-end videoconferencing by opening public telepresence rooms in major cities.

Tata Communications plans to build public telepresence rooms for hourly hire in approximately 100 cities worldwide by the end of 2009, according to Peter Quinlan, director for telepresence managed services at Tata Communications.

The Indian operator is a new entrant to the nascent high-end videoconferencing market.

It launched its first private managed telepresence service on 1 July, and at the end of that month opened public telepresence rooms in the Mumbai and Bangalore branches of the Taj Hotel group, via a deal that will see the pair share installation costs and revenues.
Tata also opened public telepresence rooms in Chennai and Hyderabad in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry and Cisco.

The telco also plans to add
Delhi to its footprint, and in September will open rooms in London and Boston, again in association with the Taj Hotel.
New York will follow.

"We want to be in every major city in the world by the end of 2009," said Quinlan, which, he explains, equates to approximately 100 rooms.

To expand further Tata will partner with other hotel chains, and service providers, and will not necessarily seek to own the rooms.

"It's not so much having our own room, but the number of interconnections," said Quinlan, speaking to Total Telecom on Friday.

Tata rents its telepresence rooms in
India at a cost of 20,000 rupees ($500 per hour), although Quinlan said Tata currently offers promotional rates, which reduce the cost to $350 per hour.

Nevertheless Tata is taking a risk with its wide-scale efforts to kick start telepresence usage.

Although telcos serving multinational businesses, such as Orange, BT and AT&T, all offer telepresence services, the development of the market has been hampered by the cost of installing the systems on enterprise sites - €250,000 per site is an often-quoted figure - and a lack of interoperability between both vendor equipment and operator networks.
As a result enterprises face the prospect of building expensive telepresence islands with no guarantee of links to suppliers and customers.

"Customers have said they don't want to go first...
[and ask] who can I talk with?" once a room is installed, said Quinlan. Unsurprisingly, to date service providers can count their telepresence installations on the fingers of a few hands at best.

By building public rooms around the world Tata hopes to stimulate the installation of private telepresence rooms at enterprise headquarters.
Such a move will offer those at the HQ the means to communicate with subsidiaries that are expensive to travel to, but, in terms of employee numbers, do not warrant their own telepresence room.

"There are locations where you can't [as an enterprise] justify telepresence," said Quinlan. "Outside the top ten economies it's difficult to get capillarity into smaller markets."

But, although Quinlan believes eventually there will be demand for the service, he recognises Tata will not see any immediate returns.

"You have to have a long-term view.
It's a three to five-year plan. The rooms will be very profitable once we have a big network," claims Quinlan.

But to create a large network of suppliers and customers, operators will need to co-operate on providing connections to competing service providers' telepresence sites. Quinlan says other operators are interested in telepresence inter-connect, but for now customer demand and spend does not warrant the effort it would take to provide it.

"Everybody would like to do it.
When the scale merits it, it will happen. The technology is the easiest part said Quinlan." "[The hard part is] getting the service layer harmonised... and dial plans, scheduling protocols and revenue assurance."

Источник: Total Telecom

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