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Publicly Available Telepresence Explodes!! Marriott, Starwood, Regus, Tata Taj All Deploy!

July 15, 2009 | Howard Lichtman

Publicly available telepresence took off like a moonshot this month with major announcements from Marriott Hotels, Starwood Hotels, and Regus to deploy telepresence systems in dozens of global locations ranging from Sydney to Hong Kong to Frankfurt to Shanghai.�� � Check out the details on each and get Human Productivity Lab President and Telepresence Options' publisher Howard S. Lichtman's Thoughts and Analysis on the market opportunity for telepresence in public places as well as a look at some of the other start ups and entrepreneurial efforts around publicly available telepresence including: Powwow Virtual, F2F Biz Cafe, and MEETnHD.


Brands: Sheraton, Westin, and W Hotels

Cities/Properties: Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, Sheraton on the Park in Sydney, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, The Westin Los Angeles Airport and W Chicago-City Center.

Future Cities/Properties: Brussels, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo

Details: Starwood will deploy 10 systems initially which will be primarily� Cisco CTS 3000 systems but will be testing the Cisco CTS 1300 in some locations. Locations will vary by property but will mostly be in converted meeting rooms.� The cost will be $500 per hour, per room. No price has been set for the CTS 1300 at this time.� See information about Tata Communications below. � �� �



Brands: Regus Executive Suites and Virtual Offices

Cities/Properties: London- Berkley Square (operational)

Future Cities/Properties: New York, Paris, San Francisco, and Singapore�

Details: Regus is a provider of executive office suites, virtual offices, and meeting rooms that can be rented on a short term basis.� The company has over 1000 business centers in 450 cities in 75 countries.� Regus already operates the largest network of publicly available videoconferencing rooms in the world with 600 locations in 400 cities in 70 countries using primarily Polycom end-points with a smattering of TANDBERG.� The company is upgrading an initial 14 of their locations to Polycom HD RPX 208M� eight-seat telepresence environments starting with their location in Berkley Square London which is operational now.� Pricing is dependent on how many people are at each site.� Pricing for 1-4 people starts at 299 GBP / $480 per hour, 1099 GBP/ $1766 for 1/2 day (4 hours), or 1999 GLB / $3212 for full day (8 hours).� Pricing for 5-8 particpants starts at 499 GBP per hour / $799, 1849 GPB / $2971 for a half-day (4 hours), and 3,349 GBP / $5382 for a full day (8 hours) day.� Traditional videoconferencing rooms where the call is received by the Regus end-point is priced at $219 / 150 GBP per hour.� If the Regus site initiates the call then pricing is dependent on the cost of the ISDN charges to call the other location.� Discounts are available for Regus virtual office customers, volume, and participation in their free Business World card program which provides a 10% discount on telepresence, videoconferencing, and meeting rooms. ��

Cisco_Marriott_ATT.jpgThumbnail image for cisco_cts3000.jpg

Brands: Marriott Hotels & Resorts, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, and Renaissance Hotels & Resorts

Cities: New York, San Francisco, Washington, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Frankfurt and London

Details: Marriott will be deploying all six seat Cisco CTS 3000 telepresence systems.� Their goal is not to take any existing conference center space or guest floor space but to find locations in public areas of the hotel.� Final space will depend on the individual property and the initial sites are expected to be operational by October. Pricing will be $500 per hour.� Marriott has partnered with AT&T who has built a managed service wrap around Cisco TelePresence with an inter-company telepresence capability and we assume that all public sites will eventually be able to reach and be reached by AT&T's enterprise telepresence clients. �


Brands: Taj Hotels, Resorts, and Palaces, Confederation of Indian Industry (4 locations), Cisco TelePresence Suites (1 location),�

Cities/Properties:� India - Bangalore - Taj West End, Bangalore - Confederation of Indian Industry, Guindy, Chennai -Confederation of Indian Industry,� Hyderabad -Confederation of Indian Industry Mumbai - Taj Mahal Tower, New Delhi - Confederation of Indian Industry

United Kingdom - London - Crowne Plaza-St. James Court

United States - Boston, MA - Taj Boston,� Santa Clara, CA - Cisco TelePresence Suites

Asia Pacific - Manila, Philippines -
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT)

Future Cities/Properties: 40 + locations planned in Europe, The United States (6), Central America, South America,� Asia Pac, Africa, and Australia


Pricing: India - C2 Locations: INR- 16,000, Taj Hotels Mumbai & Bangalore: INR - 20,000, Taj Boston USD $500 per hour, Taj London GBP 250, Cisco Suites Santa Clara: USD $299-$899 depending on # of seats/room size

Details:� Tata Communications is an international networking company that is part of the Tata Group of companies in India that it frequently referred to as the "General Electric of India".� Tata Communications is one of the leading telecommunications companies in the world and the first major network provider that "got it" and moved decisively into telepresence as both an internal business communications' tool and as a provider of enterprise Cisco TelePresence solutions, managed services, and network. The company is deploying publicly available Cisco CTS 3000 Telepresence end points in Tata Taj Hotels, Resorts, and Palaces and Conferederation of Indian Industry locations in four Indian cities.� The network can also connect and rent time in Cisco's TelePresence Suites publicly available demonstration facility in Santa Clara, California.

�� Cisco's TelePresence Suites Publicly Available TelePresence Facility

In addition to selling Cisco TelePresence gear and providing public availability, Tata, like AT&T, is offering telepresence managed services and network connectivity to enterprise telepresence clients.� They are also building their own telepresence exchange capability to provide inter-company and inter-carrier telepresence capabilites. Tata is also a� "carrier's carrier" with a history of and capabilities for providing telephony services to other regional/ telepresence carriers including wholesale long distance, submarine cable capacity, and IP network.� The company is developing a white-labeled telepresence offering that will allow other national and regional carriers to resell Tata's managed telepresence, publicly available and exchange services under their own brand.� The Phillipines Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) is an example of these partnerships and PLDT is both reselling managed telepresence services and has a publicly available Cisco CTS 3000 in Manilla that connected to the Tata publicly available network and reservation system. � � �

Human Productivity Lab President Howard S. Lichtman's
Thoughts and Analysis

In 2006 I wrote a publication called Telepresence, Effective Visual Collaboration, and the Future of Global Business at the Speed of Light.In it I made a number of very public predictions:� The rise of telepresence, the decline of the dollar, the collapse of the airline industry, the inter-connection of telepresence networks, and the growth and importance of inter-company telepresence (a term I coined).� Out of all the predictions that I have made I none has received more heat and disagreement than the viability of publicly available telepresence.� From videoconferencing industry CEOs, to other analysts, to what seems, on occasion, like the majority of the traditional videoconferencing industry, almost everyone outside of the telepresence industry itself� (and some within) were united that publicly available telepresence was a bad idea.�

The naysayers couldn't be more wrong... and this week's announcement by some of the biggest hospitality and telecommunications companies in the world reinforces publicly available telepresence's desirability.� I have always looked at publicly available telepresence as a "No Brainer" for a number of reasons:

1.� Ready Market for a Superior Offering - For all of videoconferencing's issues (lack of business-class consistency of quality, poor end-user acceptance, somewhat high cost, etc.) the alternatives are often worse especially for international business.� Webconferencing and telephony are OK for certain types of meetings but when you are trying to build trust, rapport, and need the social focus that a face-to-face meeting provides then your options are physical travel which has enormous hard, soft, and opportunity costs... especially for international business.� For these reasons there has existed a global network of 5,000+ publicly available videoconferencing systems that include big players like Kinkos and Regus but also thousands of individually owned systems that list their availability with videoconferencing service bureaus such as Affinity VideoNet, ACT Conferencing/Proximity, and MivNet that get paid for finding an available room and taking care of the details, network connection, bridging, and billing. The world is doing hundreds/thousands of publicly available videoconferencing calls per day.� It isn't hard to see how dramatically improving the experience in a rapidly globalizing world with deteriorating airline convenience could improve usage and end-user satisfaction. �� �



Growing Utility & Greater Adoption - The utility of telepresence (Who you can talk to and what you can do in telepresence environments) is set to dramatically hockey stick. Global organizations are deploying more and more systems whose utility has been steadily rising and headed sky-ward. Skyrocketing utility is coming from multiple angles:

Growing deployments means more endpoints can eventually be reached...� More and more companies are deploying telepresence and HD videoconferencing systems in more and more locations. Cisco is up to 350 customers with 2300 systems of various types.� Teliris just reported orders for 130 new systems, and while I have not heard official numbers from the other players I hear nothing but good things from my connections in Polycom and TANDBERG.� I am also hearing about mondo elephant sized RFPs on the street including a Fortune 50 technology services company looking for 120 rooms and a Fortune 50 Commercial Bank looking for 200+ rooms.� Telepresence customers have gone from sticking their toes in the water to jackknifes and cannonballs.�

Inter-connection of telepresence networks & exchanges - As telepresence networks and exchanges develop companies will be able to reach more and more of their joint venture partners, vendors, and customers.�


Interoperability of Telepresence Systems
������������� 1. TANDBERG demonstrated a call from a T3 to a Polycom RPX
������������� 2. Cisco TelePresence Inter-operability with standards based VTC at HD
������������� 3. Teliris' Dynamic Scenerio Manager and Telepresence Gateway

Growing network of Publicly Available Telepresence Systems

������� Examples

  • Marriott, Sheraton, W Hotels, Renaissance, Taj Hotels, Regus, etc.� (See above)
  • Other Publicly Available Telepresence Initiatives (See below)

Other Publicly Available Telepresence Start Ups and Business Models

There are a number of other entrepreneurs and� companies that are looking to make telepresence systems publicly available in a variety of locales and business models.




Powwow Virtual - A 2006 design for a 6,000+ sq. ft. Powwow Virtual Super Center for deployment in a high-end retail environment in an international gateway city.� The telepresence systems featured do not currently reflect the mix that we believe is optimal for success in 2009.�

Powwow Virtual is the Human Productivity Lab's business model and technology roadmap for a global network of publicly available telepresence conferencing centers that double as showrooms/sales centers for corporate telepresence, video conferencing, and prosumer/consumer visual collaboration solutions.� We are seeking $35MM to open 6-7 super centers in high-end retail/business/ mixed use locations such as Tysons Corner Galleria, Grand Central Station� (Pan Am Building/200 Park Avenue) in New York, Phipps Plaza in Atlanta, or the Ferry Building in San Francisco.� The 6-7 initial locations would prove the Reed's Law model I.E. that each additional location drives sales to the other locations in a virtuous cycle that grows geometrically with each additional location and then additional locations (8-50+)� would be added through franchise partners or through another capital raise to open additional company-owned stores.

Each Powwow Virtual location would have multiple publicly available telepresence and videoconferencing systems from leading telepresence providers such as Cisco, Digital Video Enterprises, LifeSize, Polycom, TANDBERG, Telepresence Tech, Teliris, and Vidyo.� Each super center location would feature best-of-breed telepresence environments from 1 seat to 28 seats that would be capable of communicating at the highest possible quality natively with other Powwow locations, corporate telepresence and videoconferencing systems on a variety of carrier networks, publicly available telepresence systems in Starwood, Marriott, Tata, and Regus locations globally, and the world's 5,000+� publicly available traditional videoconferencing rooms.

�While the illustrative floor plan above is for a super center in an international gateway city, each featured telepresence/videoconferencing system would be its own "module" that could be deployed individually or be combined with any other module for smaller locations in mixed use office buildings, convention centers, hotels, coffee shops, etc. while sharing common branding, reservation system, information security procedures, and collaborative tools, etc.

Each Corporate solution will be completely compatible with the public telepresence network and will feature a shared directory with sophisticated reservation/meeting governance and 24x7 operator support.

We believe our business model has numerous advantages over locating publicly available telepresence in hotels:

  • A wider variety of systems of varying capacities and capabilities at superior price points
  • Better locations in the major international gateway cities with respect to consumer awareness and visibility
  • Overflow capacity for peak meeting times vs. onesie/twosie deployments
  • Ability to strongly brand the experience
  • Strong focus on the customer and the customer's ability to connect with the greatest number of telepresence and videoconferencing end points at the greatest possible quality vs. a single platform approach
  • Superior economics per site:
    • The ability to spread the cost of the network connection/managed service fees/labor over multiple end-points vs. 1-2 end-points
    • Price supported by sales of enterprise telepresence solutions
    • Price supported by retail sales
  • More food and beverage choices at better prices than world class hotels
  • Better visibility and brand/service awareness in each market than hotels can provide
  • Retail concept in the front of the house to drive traffic into the store & ability cross sell to virtual meeting participants on their way out
  • The ability to sell corporate telepresence solutions in a customer-focused environment which allows for a head-to-head comparison of price/performance
  • Human Productivity Lab Secret Sauce and Future-Proof Business Strategy

Powwow Virtual has:

  • A world-class technology team at arm's length
  • The right technology roadmap for success
  • The designs for the facilities and unique telepresence environments/solutions
  • Unique HPL pro-modifications to existing telepresence solutions
  • Relationships with the leading telepresence hardware vendors, telepresence managed service providers, carriers, and inter-networking providers in the world
  • A proven track record of success in predicting how the telepresence industry would develop and which telepresence technologies/systems would succeed
  • The largest audience in the world interested in telepresence

Our business model perfectly complements the publicly available telepresence efforts of AT&T, Cisco, F2F Biz Cafe, Marriott, MEETnHD, Polycom, Regus, and Tata

  • � Powwow Virtual locations would be completely compatible with these efforts from Day 1
  • � Powwow Virtual locations would offer overflow capacity to each of these locations and vice versa
  • � Powwow Virtual locations would drive traffic to other publicly available telepresence networks and vice versa

Finally, we believe that Powwow offers a number of non-intuitive advantages for serious investors interested in telepresence opportunities:

  • Insane_budget_Deficit.jpgInternational and Emerging Market Business Opportunity - Worried about the actuarially unsound US Dollar?� Interested in putting some chips on the BRIC countries, Switzerland, or emerging markets?� Powwow offers a unique ability to invest in these markets while maintaining your ability to manage your investment from any country in the world with a telepresence end-point.�

  • Reduced Technology Risk - The Powwow business model has a more limited technology risk vs. other models.� Powwow Virtual is the "Big Screen TV Store" of telepresence.� We are pulling for everyone to be successful and are happy to help any of the vendors improve their offerings but if "Panasonic" is outselling "Magnovox" then we take out "Maganavox" and replace it with "Panasonic". If Company Y develops a new telepresence technology that revolutionizes the market then we replace what isn't selling with the latest and greatest.� The customer is King at Powwow Virtual and the investment risk of betting on a failed technology is reduced.�

Serious inquiries to [email protected]



F2F Biz Cafe is an effort led by serial entrepreneur Carter Rankin would locate single seat TANDBERG T1 and six seat TANDBERG T3 telepresence systems in a shared work environment with a european bistro feel.� Each F2F Biz Cafe would be a professional office-like environment situated in a retail community or corporate corridor in a city or suburb, where Global 2000 and Midmarket professionals, entrepreneurs, mobile and telecommute workers can do business and utilize exceptionally high quality F2F communications. F2F Biz Cafes would provide a community space, a social environment and a convenient, hospitable location for access to business and technology.

With a subscription based membership model, which has already been proven by currently successful co-work facilities, revenue gains greater reliability with increased retention. A target membership of 1,000 minimum to 3,000 maximum, per cafe, is based both on the current market need and the quality and attractiveness of the associated amenities.� Partnership opportunities with companies that could provide reciprocal membership, member discounts and services abound.

Individual, Small Business and Corporate memberships will include:

  • Free use of both business class and Mac workstations
  • Full access to cafe, lounge area
  • Free Wi-Fi accessibility throughout each Cafe
  • Free entry for 1 guest per visit per member
  • Complimentary coffee and teas in the Cafe
  • A range of fresh and healthy refreshments; again complimentary
  • Free access to monthly networking events and discussion forums
  • Complimentary periodicals and newspapers, Kindle e-book
  • Access to TANDBERG telepresence Systems� (HD Video Conferencing)
  • Community Amphitheater- Local workshops and meetings

Cafe Interior

1. Upscale social environment; creating a social-hub experience
2. Tasteful furnishings - in the style of a world-class hotel lobby lounge
3. Street level, retail setting, large windows
4. Concierge/Host Desk- in each local Cafe
5. Community Amphitheater with screen, seating for 36, to push local to international workshops, seminars and meetings. The theatre will also be rented out to public and business organizations as well as topical experts.
6. High Definition Golf- state of the art virtual golf, featuring 50 world renowned golf courses.
7. An Internet Cafe Station- high top islands with Dell and Apple workstations (several of which will be equipped with 24" LCD screens) to allow members to shop products/services, check email and "connect" with others anywhere in the F2F Biz Cafe system while surfing the net.
8. Private Office Suite rentals for member's guests, clients, colleagues.
9. Complimentary Work Stations
10. Team Conference room with Telepresence system rentals
11. Executive Conference room rentals
12. Periodicals/Magazines/Newspapers- Local and International
13. Printer Station- providing color laser printing
14. Complimentary coffee and light biz-snacks'
15. Cafe Bar- beer, extensive wine list & wine club membership included, healthy light meals (small plates appetizers)
16. Signature Fireplace Lounge Area- a cozy social-connection area
17. Rotating Art Shows- monthly art shows featuring different and local artists
18. Upscale bathrooms- Resort-like, well appointed bathrooms

For more information contact Carter Rankin at carterrankin3(at)gmail(dot)com





is an effort that would locate immersive telepresence environments into shared tenant buildings either as an amenity subsidized by tenant rents or as a publicly available service paid for by the hour with volume discounts available.� For additional information, visit �

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