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Allied Fiber & Human Productivity Lab Share Insight on the Future of Telepresence

July 19, 2011 | William Zimmerman
Allied Fiber CEO, Hunter Newby and Human Productivity Lab President, Howard S. Lichtman attended this year's Broadband Properties Summit in Dallas, TX. Jaymie Scotto & Associates (JSA) recently caught up with the two telecom thought-leaders to get their input on the trends in the telepresence industry, the networks needed to support its growth and where the future is heading. For the complete interview, please read below.

allied fiber - human productivity lab discussion telepresence.jpg
JSA: How do you see video collaboration developing in the US versus the rest of the world?
Howard S. Lichtman (HSL): The United States is home to the dominant players in telepresence and visual collaboration end-points and environments (by market share) including: Cisco/TANDBERG, Polycom/HP, Vidyo, LifeSize, Teliris, DVE, AVI-SPL, and TelePresence Tech.  The US leads the world in managed video services and inter-networking telepresence as well with AT&T, Glowpoint, MASERGY, Providea, IVCi, Solutionz, York Telecom, Verizon.  Many of the important non-domestic companies that have significant market share or whom are making inroads with innovative or disruptive products are doing so through the strength of American companies they have acquired or significant staff/offices/sales efforts in the United States.  Examples include: BT (acquired WireOne), Tata, and Vu TelePresence.
 
JSA: What can high-speed networks do to support telepresence growth?
HSL: The telecom carriers are big supporters because telepresence loads networks and the customers are typically large Fortune 5000 customers that get locked into multi-year contracts and don't have problems paying the bills. Wall Street loves recurring revenue and the spend on network and managed services is greater than the cost of the equipment.  Probably the #1 thing that the high-speed network providers could do to support the growth of telepresence is peer with each other and support cross-network QoS by matching QoS tags between disparate providers.
 
JSA: Where do you see the future of video and telepresence heading?
HSL: One of the most interesting dynamics in telepresence is that all the major inputs to realistic telepresence environments are dramatically improving in areas such as: higher resolutions and frame rates, larger screen sizes, brighter LED & DLP projectors and better quality of service on networks.

At the same time the cost of these components is falling.  We see high-end telepresence environments becoming more and more realistic while, at the same time, we see wider adoption and greater utility. By utility we mean that who you can talk to and what content can be reached will grow dramatically.  Telepresence and video exchanges which connect disparate networks at high speeds and quality will continue to grow, improving the ability to reach more and more organizations. At the same time the best effort Internet continues to improve to handle video while next generation video protocols like SVC improves video quality over bumpy networks.  Directory services are simplifying 

On the lower end, we see video becoming ubiquitous in the home through low-cost, high quality appliances, set-top box integration, and more sophisticated and higher quality video phones.  We see mobile devices with more sophisticated video capabilities that have better integration into unified communications solutions at high quality.  The industry is slowly and surely moving towards the ability for any video end-point to communicate with any other end-point.
 
JSA: How does dark fiber support video collaboration and telepresence?
Hunter Newby (HN): Without dark fiber and the network operators that light it and offer high-speed transport on dedicated links two-way video and telepresence would not work optimally, if at all.
 
JSA: What demand do you see in video throughout the US?
HN: Video over IP networks of all kinds is growing at an incredible rate. Fiber-based transport networks are being stretched to their maximum and then some to support video over public as well as private IP networks. Video over mobile is a subset of that growth and it has its own challenges. It is dynamic in a wireless sense which requires spectrum, towers and antennas physically fixed in place to deal with demand wherever the demand may be - which is growing and shifting all of the time. Wireless also places a major strain on fiber-based transport for backhaul which is also a fixed-in-place, physical process. Wireless backhaul takes time to build and keeping up with the number of devices being sold and the expectations of the buyers to have everything everywhere always is daunting.
 
JSA: What type of network support is needed to aid future growth of telepresence in the US?
HN: Telepresence is unique within the video market due to its quality and reliability. These attributes are derived from superior technology and care in the networks used by telepresence providers. It is not basic, full-duplex video. These providers typically use much higher resolution cameras, monitors and codec's and therefore there is a corresponding need for more transport capacity. The public Internet is usually not an option due to its unreliability unless both sides are on-net to the same ISP backbone and there is a direct city-city fiber path with no other provider's routers in between. The type of network support required will be logical and methodical investment in new fiber for the local, middle and long portions of the path. Whether by building new, or leasing dark from a provider of fiber, or leasing multiple 10 G's from those that have their own dark fiber these are the elements in the core that will make telepresence grow and succeed.






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