Cisco Announces Life-Like, Pricey Video

Continuing its drive to expand beyond its networking roots, Cisco unveiled TelePresence Meeting.

While the high-end system promises to improve on the often current jerky, problematic video-conferencing offerings of today, the update comes with a hefty price tag, as well as technology requirements.

A solution for effective face-to-face remote meetings “has proven to be an elusive dream for businesses in the past,” Marthin De Beer, vice president of Cisco’s Emerging Markets Technology Group, said in a statement.

Cisco TelePresence Meeting, available for small or large gatherings, is the first TelePresence product from the San Jose, Calif.-based company and just the latest in a number of video offerings by the networking giant.

Unlike teleconferences, generally powered by a telephone and possibly a high-definition video signal, TelePresence combines a broadband Internet connection and enhanced video with audio to provide remote users a sensation of being in the same room.

For Cisco, this means 65-inch plasma screens providing six times the visual data as HDTV and full-duplex microphones allowing multiple people to conduct simultaneous conversations.

The capability doesn’t come cheap: TelePresence Meeting 1000, designed for smaller groups, carries a $79,000 price-tag, while TelePresence 3000 costs $299,000.

Telepresence Meeting
TelePresence 1000.
Source: Cisco

“This will stimulate use of other types of video,” explained Zeus Kerravala, senior Yankee Group analyst, told “Video drives bandwidth.” TelePresence Meeting was built on the SIP protocol and proprietary guidelines, according to the analyst.

Along with the hefty price, Cisco requires broadband Internet connections beefy enough to transmit broadband video.

You can’t shrink these life-size video images down to a PC window, either, warned Kerravala.

In a nod to those stringent requirements, Cisco said it has created a TelePresence network certification program enabling service providers to be branded as capable of offering a “Cisco-certified TelePresence network connection,” according to a Cisco statement.

The company also announced the Cisco TelePresence Advanced Technology Provider (ATP) Program is focused on helping other firms provide the “expertise, intellectual property and lifecycle services capabilities necessary to deliver the Cisco TelePresence experience,” according to a statement.

Cisco said 23 partners worldwide are enrolled in the program.

The new video product is expected to be released in December. Verizon Business said it will test TelePresence Meeting in upcoming customer trials on its Private IP network, as well as customer’s Ethernet networks, according to a statement.

While Cisco is not alone in the video-conferencing market, due to its tighter control of the hardware and software, it can deliver a system requiring less bandwidth than HP’s (Quote) Halo service, Kerravala said.

Other competitors include LifeSize Communications, Polycom and Teliris.

TelePresence Meeting is just the latest video offering by Cisco.

In September, Cisco brought the camera into the boardroom with Cisco Digital Media System, hardware and software enabling companies to broadcast business-quality video to customers, clients and employees.

Earlier, Cisco purchased video surveillance company SyPixx and video-on-demand firm Arroyo Video Solutions.

In 2005, Cisco entered the video market with the $6.9 billion buy-out of set-top maker Scientific-Atlanta.

Cisco’s continued entry into segments of the video market should further validate business-oriented video, an analyst told in September.

Article courtesy of

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