B2B telepresence gaining in presence

Tuesday, 07 July, 2009

Continuing with its goal of offering customers a consistent set of services that fits with the speed and coverage of its network, Telstra has launched a managed business-to-business Cisco TelePresence solution, according to Ovum's Claudio Castelli.

The launch is another step in Telstra’s strategy of growing revenues on network-embedded ICT and managed services on the top of its Next IP network. With the credit crunch, telepresence is high on the enterprise agenda, however full cost savings will be only achieved in a multi-carrier and multi-vendor environment.

Ovum expects telepresence solutions to gain more traction during the current economic climate. Their research with multinational corporations has shown that companies believe that implementing telepresence provides a high return on investment in terms of cost savings, with many companies willing to advance their telepresence plans in response to the global credit crunch.

Driven by travel-cost savings and peering capability, Ovum believes a ‘new wave’ of telepresence is evident. Vendors and service providers are said to estimate travel-cost savings to be around 30–40%. Some have validated these figures in internal exercises; Verizon, for example, is said to have claimed it saved $1.5 million in three months across six rooms (1,000 meetings).

Compatibility remains an issue however and, in a diverse environment, enterprises will need to collaborate with some of their counterparts connected through different carrier networks. Interoperability between carriers and solutions across different vendors will be a challenge.

Telcos providing business-to-business support can assure bandwidth and quality of service within their own networks. The question is whether they will take the next step to delivering global services across multiple carrier networks. AT&T, BT and Tata are already working together to provide services on a global scale.

In addition, vendors don’t use the same protocols. Some use H.323, while others use SIP or, in the case of Cisco and HP, proprietary protocols requiring intermediary solutions to support interconnection. Telstra, for example, offers video collaboration solutions from Cisco and Polycom and it’s not clear whether there are plans for interoperability across the platforms.

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