Cisco takes telepresence technology to public places
By Matt Hamblen
Cisco Systems Inc. last week said its TelePresence high-end videoconferencing technology is now available for use on a rental basis at a Cisco facility in California and at hotels in Boston, London and two cities in India.
Rooms equipped with TelePresence systems have also been set up for public use at four offices of the Confederation of Indian Industry, a trade group in India. Cisco worked on all of the deployments with Mumbai-based Tata Communications Ltd., which plans to open another 100 videoconferencing rooms in various locations by the end of next year.
Cisco has been selling TelePresence setups, which include high-definition monitors plus cameras and sound systems, to corporate users for the past two years.
But installations can cost $350,000 to $500,000 per room, and Cisco officials said the addition of publicly available rooms is aimed at expanding the market for the technology. Rental costs range from $299 to $899 per hour, depending on the size of the room.
Thus far, the hotels with TelePresence systems are all part of the Taj Hotels chain. The Taj Boston's setup is in a converted guest room on the eighth floor. David Gibbons, the hotel's general manager, said he foresees the room being used by businesses as well as other customers, such as wedding parties that want to connect with guests who couldn't attend their event in person.
In March, Hewlett-Packard Co. announced plans to equip rooms at unspecified Marriott hotels with its Halo telepresence system for rental use. But IDC analyst Nora Freedman said that no such rooms have opened yet.
This version of the story originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.
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