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Telstra E&G makes big push into telepresence

May 28, 2009 | Chris Payatagool

Telstra_logo.pngby Stuart Corner   

Telstra Enterprise and Government gathered about 500 customer representatives at a breakfast briefing in Sydney to promote the benefits of high definition videoconferencing.

The host of the meeting, Telstra's executive director for convergent sales, Paul Geason, told the gathering that Telstra E&G would be making a big push into high definition videoconferencing, generally known as telepresence, in response to market demand "video, video, video is what we are hearing," he said.

For the event Telstra set up a three way telepresence conference using technology from strategic partner Cisco, in what for many of those attending may well have been their first encounter with the technology. The conference linked a Cisco executive in San Jose and one from Telstra's other strategic partner, Microsoft, in North Sydney.

Geason told iTWire that Telstra E&G how had about 20 customers in various stages of installing their own telepresence facilities and that, in July Telstra would launch a 'business-to-business-exchange that would enable different customers to set up telepresence conferences between their respective facilities.

He told the audience "in Telstra we have deployed a significant amount of high definition telepresence and it is becoming fundamental to the way we work." He added that his travel budget had been cut by 50 percent, "I'm lucky to be here today." (Luckier certainly than another Telstra executive at the meeting who complained to iTWire that his travel budget had been cut to zero!)

While the travel cost savings and 'green' benefits of videoconferencing are well known, Geason claimed that the technology actually improved meetings. "What is most exciting about this is that the quality of the interaction is enhanced. There is nowhere to hide in an immersive high definition telepresence experience."

Other, global, carriers such as Tata Communications have recently launched videoconferencing services based around Cisco TelePresence technology and have gone further in setting up a global network of public telepresence meeting rooms which can be hooked into meeting rooms in customer premises.

Geason said that Telstra E&G had telepresence rooms in Sydney and Melbourne which customers could hire by the hour but that this was more a courtesy service and sales tool than a full commercial offering, and that Telstra had no plans to launch a full commercial telepresence service. "Providing that first experience to potential customers is very important, but our focus at the moment is on customers deploying themselves," he said.
He also played down the possibility of Telstra interconnecting telepresence facilities with those operated by overseas carriers in order to facilitate a global teleconference. "That is technically possible the question is whether it is strategically or commercial sensible is another matter."

However he said Telstra did face the challenge of providing and supporting telepresence facilities overseas for its multinational customers. "We are thinking now about how we support our customers in Asia and the US and in Europe in terms of the deployment and management of [telepresence]. That will be our first investment. How that plays out in terms of bilateral arrangements with other carriers is not something we are focussed on at the moment."


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