Cisco’s TelePresence Pitch

Continuing its drive to expand beyond its networking roots, Cisco unveiled TelePresence Meeting.

While the high-end system promises to improve on the often current jerky, problematic video-conferencing offerings of today, the update comes with a hefty price tag, as well as technology requirements.

A solution for effective face-to-face remote meetings “has proven to be an
elusive dream for businesses in the past,” Marthin De Beer, vice president
of Cisco’s Emerging Markets Technology Group, said in a statement.

TelePresence Meeting, available for small or large gatherings, is the first
TelePresence product from the San Jose, Calif.-based company and just the
latest in a number of video offerings by the networking giant.

Unlike teleconferences, generally powered by a telephone and possibly a
high-definition video signal, TelePresence combines a broadband Internet
connection and enhanced video with audio to provide remote users a sensation
of being in the same room.

For Cisco, this means 65-inch plasma screens
providing six times the visual data as HDTV and full-duplex microphones
allowing multiple people to conduct simultaneous conversations.

The capability doesn’t come cheap: TelePresence Meeting 1000, designed for
smaller groups, carries a $79,000 price-tag, while TelePresence 3000 costs

Telepresence Meeting

TelePresence 1000.

Source: Cisco

“This will stimulate use of other
types of video,” explained Zeus Kerravala, senior Yankee Group analyst, told “Video drives bandwidth.” TelePresence Meeting was built on the SIP protocol and proprietary guidelines, according to the analyst.

Along with the hefty price, Cisco requires broadband Internet connections
beefy enough to transmit broadband video.

You can’t shrink these life-size
video images down to a PC window, either, warned Kerravala.

In a nod to those stringent requirements, Cisco said it has created a
TelePresence network certification program enabling service providers to be
branded as capable of offering a “Cisco-certified TelePresence network
connection,” according to a Cisco statement.

The company also announced the
Cisco TelePresence Advanced Technology Provider (ATP) Program is focused on
helping other firms provide the “expertise, intellectual property and
lifecycle services capabilities necessary to deliver the Cisco TelePresence
experience,” according to a statement.

Cisco said 23 partners worldwide are
enrolled in the program.

The new video product is expected to be released in December. Verizon Business said it will test TelePresence Meeting in upcoming customer trials on its Private IP network, as well as customer’s Ethernet networks, according to a statement.

While Cisco is not alone in the video-conferencing market, due to its tighter
control of the hardware and software, it can deliver a system requiring less
bandwidth than HP’s Halo service, Kerravala said.

Other competitors include LifeSize Communications, Polycom and Teliris.

TelePresence Meeting is just the latest video offering by Cisco.

In September, Cisco brought the camera into the boardroom with Cisco Digital Media System, hardware and software enabling
companies to broadcast business-quality video to customers, clients and

Earlier, Cisco purchased video surveillance company SyPixx
and video-on-demand firm Arroyo Video Solutions.

In 2005, Cisco entered the
video market with the $6.9 billion buy-out of set-top maker Scientific-Atlanta.

Cisco’s continued entry into segments of the video market should further
validate business-oriented video, an analyst told in

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