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AT&T gears up for APAC telepresence space

September 10, 2008 | Chris Payatagool

Written by Petroc Wilton  

AT&T is gearing up for an imminent play in the regional video conferencing market, teaming with Cisco to deliver a managed offering. The service will be based on Cisco's telepresence solution using B2B links via AT&T's IP network and VPN capabilities.

Currently on trial in the APAC region, the service is slated for rollout in key 'hub' markets - including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore - by the end of this year.
Keith Cambron, President and CEO of AT&T Labs, explained the security and performance benefits arising from the firm's emphasis on B2B connections.


"Because of the bandwidth you're using, video has very little tolerance for air. The fact that you can do it over a secure B2B connection, where the bandwidth is reserved, means you're going to have a good experience," Cambron said. "If you try to do it over the internet, then you've got a couple of problems. One is just straight security... but the real risk is denial of service attacks or bandwidth overload. It doesn't take much to impair the video; it's H.264 video, so it needs about 5-6Mbps per screen. So that secure B2B is pretty important."

Bandwidth and latency requirements are also part of the reason behind AT&T's choice to provide telepresence as a managed service. "The demands on the service to do it well - the amount of bandwidth, the low latency, the virtually air-free performance that you need to provide - those really all call for embedding in the network," said Cambron. But he also cited flexibility as a factor.

"On a B2B network, you cannot predict a priori which businesses are going to need to work with each other.... the fact that there's a common switch that can be switched within the network and that the bandwidth demand can be managed is very powerful," he said.

To enable precise control of bandwidth in the network, AT&T has been upgrading its routing systems for the past two years, including the addition of reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexers.

The ROADMs will allow the firm to reallocate bandwidth within its infrastructure remotely, under computer control. The telco is also using the traffic engineering controls offered by MPLS to pre-compute alternate paths in the event of connection problems, aiming to achieve failover speeds as low as 100ms.

[via Telecommunications Review]

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