As good as being there

BT was an early supporter of Cisco’s TelePresence capabilities and today the company announced it had demonstrated the ability to support intercompany TelePresence connections, regardless of who the service provider is. According to BT and Cisco, the capability will be commercially available later this year.

This is obviously the next step in the process of making telepresence more viable for a broader range of customers. It comes on the heels of AT&T’s announcementlast week of its network-based telepresence offering.

The momentum is clearly building here, but I think it’s also important to remember that Cisco is not the only player in this space. As my colleague Dawn Bushaus noted earlier this year, there are a number of companies active in this space who are eager to work with service providers.

When I wrote about AT&T and Cisco, and the ability to interconnect TelePresence sites in the network, without dedicated connections, I immediately heard from Teliris, which has been providing its customers with a fully-managed, end-to-end service since 2001, and according to the company, guaranteeing 99% reliability that ensure each meeting takes place on time and for the length of time that is needed.

The point here is that we are seeing momentum building in the telepresence space and while Cisco is driving a lot of that momentum, it is not the only horse in the race. Smaller service providers have options as well.

And for this market to truly take off, there will need to be interoperability among equipment providers. That’s a thornier issuefor companies such as Cisco and HP, who believe in their own ability to dominate a market. As Dawn writes today, however, there are market forces pushing in this direction yet many challenges lie ahead.

From the service providers’ standpoint, lack of interoperability means hitching your star to one vendors’ platform for a managed in-network service, and that carries its own risk, particularly for smaller service providers who may not be able to attract the attention of very large vendors .

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