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Conferencing/telepresence

Cisco Meets Al Gore

6:20 PM -- TelePresence is green. Just ask Al Gore.

Bubble talk aside, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has decided to establish itself as an environmental pioneer. So greenness was touted as the topic of a VoiceCon keynote this morning, where CEO John Chambers joined Al Gore (who gets to put "Nobel Laureate" in front of his name now) and Cisco chief marketing officer Sue Bostrom in a discussion about climate change.

Chambers spoke from San Jose, Calif., and Gore from Nashville. Guess how.

After 18 minutes of prefaces and long-winded introductions, Chambers and Gore got to speak -- about the greenness of TelePresence, at first. Gore gushed about the technology, adding that he didn't own any Cisco stock and wasn't getting any remuneration for his appearance. "I'm here because I'm impressed with this system," he said.

And yes, cutting back on travel is a way for a business to cut costs and, subsequently, their dreaded carbon footprints. "People have been waiting for a new videoconferencing or teleconferencing option to come along that would be realistic enough to substitute for a large fraction of meetings that have people flying all over the planet," Gore said.

The pitch has some merit, but telepresence (no capitals, for the generic case) remains really expensive, and some execs might not want to break their travel habits.

The rest of the session got more substantial as Gore and Chambers discussed the changing of attitudes inside corporations and goverments. Cisco's examples were familiar ground for anyone who's heard Chambers speak recently. (Likewise for Gore, or so I'd presume; I don't know for sure because I don't follow him around as much.)

The replay of the hour-long session can be found here. Registration is required, but you can use a fake name and email address.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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