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Fixed-line VoIP booming; telepresence needs common language

June 16, 2011

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Today's Top Stories
1. Study: VoIP winning fixed line market share, with room for substantial growth
2. New FuzeBox telepresence product provides gateway between walled gardens
3. Verizon, Tata Communications strike telepresence reciprocity deal
4. Comcast to offer HD video Skype calls on TV sets to subscribers
5. KeyOn adds VoIP to product offerings with acquisition of CommX

Editor's Corner: Island hopping in the world of telepresence, there are too many different languages

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Editor's Corner

Island hopping in the world of telepresence, there are too many different languages

By Jim O'Neill Comment | Forward | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Jim O'Neill

Telepresence and the video conferencing space are exploding.

It seems that almost every day--and certainly every week--a news release pings my inbox to let me know there's a new company, a new technology, a new innovation coming out that will make doing business remotely easier.

There's no doubt that the ability to connect seamlessly using a variety of conferencing solutions makes doing business easier, more cost effective and, of course, greener as well. But it's not just business that has adopted the technology--schools and governments have bought in as well, some of them when the technology was still brand new.

In York County, Penn., taxpayers are saving more than $200,000 a year--and have been saving money since the late 1990s--after the city installed video conferencing technology in its courtrooms and the city jail, allowing judges to conduct hearings. Philadelphia, which also uses video conferencing, has more than 10 times as many monthly conferences and at least 10 times the savings because of the technology.

The state's chief justice said savings across the Keystone State due to teleconferencing top $21 million annually.

But telepresence remains a high-priced tool, one wielded, primarily, by large companies that can afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars a dedicated telepresence solution has required. Those solutions exist like tiny islands spread cross the globe. Islands in the chain are connected, of course, but there's little talking going on between the links because they all speak a different tongue.

That isolation is changing, of course, but slowly. And the fact that those pricey, walled-garden solutions aren't able to communicate with each other easily is holding back the industry, allowing startups like Vidyo, which sells inexpensive solutions that connect multiple screens, to get traction.

Cisco and Polycom, for example, said they're looking to roll out more affordable solutions based on technology similar to Vidyo's. And, this week, Verizon said it would extend its own platform by opening it up to Tata Communications users across the globe. It's a reciprocity agreement between two big companies that both use Cisco solutions (it reminds me of two private country clubs extending reciprocity to each other in hopes of staying aflot). But it is a start.

And there's more on that front: FuzeBox announced it's rolling out a cloud-based gateway that integrates telepresence systems--including those from Polycom, Tandberg and LifeSize--while also extending video conferencing and voice to any mobile device or computer through integration with its Web conferencing and video conferencing collaboration platform, Fuze Meeting.

In all, that should make it easier for me to talk to you, and that's a good thing. --Jim

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