If they've bet correctly, the technology that sends high-definition video over IP networks to provide life-sized video conferencing in high-tech conference rooms is apparently poised for mainstream acceptance.
But the number of truly immersive telepresence rooms that have been launched still remains in the low thousands. What's more, myriad problems could stall widespread uptake -- keeping telepresence accessible only to the Fortune 5000.
First, there is a lack of industry-wide interoperability that prevents enterprise customers with disparate technologies from interacting. Then there is pricing -- fully immersive rooms from companies like Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Tandberg and Polycom can run between $200,000 and $400,000 depending on how many screens and endpoints are deployed. That's not to mention the monthly cost of bandwidth required for some systems -- that can run in the tens of thousands -- particularly for enterprise users that don't have their own wide area networks (WANs). Then many users pay thousands a month for managed services related to the room.
More information on telepresence:
Partners: UC, infrastructure consolidation to drive business in '08: Unified communications (UC) and infrastructure consolidation will be hot technologies in 2008, VARs say.
Cisco to partners: Get smart with collaborative services: Cisco is encouraging its partners to find revenue in services in addition to smart solutions and hardware.
Cisco earnings strong overall, but wobbly for U.S. partners: Third-quarter Cisco earnings were solid overall, but the U.S. market is not promising and slower sales are affecting partners.
Optimism about telepresence is high at Cisco, but channel will be slow to grow: Telepresence networks and applications will become a major part of the business of Cisco and its channel partners, according to CEO John Chambers, who called it one of several technologies with potential to generate more than $10 billion in revenue within a few years.
This was first published in May 2008