x
Conferencing/telepresence

Cisco, Nortel Tee Off in Telepresence

Even if "immersiveness" isn't a real word, it's the very thing two communications equipment giants -- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Nortel Networks Ltd. -- use to judge their respective offerings in the field of telepresence, where video conferencing meets reality TV.

The goal in a telepresentation, as our reporters have recently witnessed, is to make the participants of what we used to label a "conference call" feel as if they're in the same room together. The people are life-sized. Their voices give some approximation of how close or far away they are. The images are bright and vibrant, and the sound is crisp and loud.

Both Cisco and Nortel hit very close to the mark, judging by our recent visits, but each has a slightly different advantage.

Cisco's telepresence kit was edged out visually by Nortel's presentation. Nortel's setup used two, side by side, very large rear-projection high-def screens. Cisco's row of three high-def plasmas, while great looking, still gives one the feeling of watching TV. Have a look:

Cisco, though, had flawless audio, compared to Nortel's slight delay. It wasn't dubbed-karate-movie bad, just a slight, split-second hitch that kept it from feeling "real."

Both companies handle all the installation, and both run similarly high price tags of around $300,000 for the most tricked-out rooms. Both have smaller more cost-efficient options. Cisco for example, does have a one-screen room for $79,000.

Cisco claims to have an installation advantage in that, since it is using mounted TVs and not tearing out walls, it can convert an existing conference room into a telepresence room provided the room has the correct dimensions. Nortel's solutions are built from scratch.

Cisco has shipped 160 rooms in the past 12 months. Nortel won't say how many installs it has lined up.

Both companies make the telepresence system easy to use. Cisco's telepresence meetings can be set up via Microsoft Outlook. Once the appointment is scheduled, the information is pushed to the touch-screen phone in the telepresence room, and the meeting can begin with a single touch of a button.

Nortel uses its own Web reservation system to set up a telepresence meeting, but the outcome is similar.

Cisco announced today its system is now more interoperable and can even talk to non-Cisco telepresence setups. (See Cisco Improves Telepresence.) Cisco claims the inter-company features are an industry first, but Nortel's VP of Network Application Services, Dean Fernandes, says his company has been making such inter-company calls "since the service's launch in May."

(For more pictures of the services, go here: Nortel Trumps Cisco? and Cisco's Telepresence.)

Nortel says its service is vendor agnostic. All of the equipment in the telepresence room is delivered through a partnership with Polycom Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM). Cisco, meanwhile, uses its own equipment for everything from the TVs to the microphones to the cameras.

"The engineering team had thought long and hard and found that there was nothing out there that met their requirements except for our own equipment," says Cisco's telepresence marketing manager, Erica Schroeder.

Both are now available worldwide in most major metropolitan markets. Cisco says it is in the process of deploying in over 40 countries, and Nortel has network operation centers in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 2:57:39 PM
re: Cisco, Nortel Tee Off in Telepresence The real deal here is high-def. These TVs are indeed shocking to look at. Putting electronics around it just seems like salting dinner to your taste. No one seems to have a killer advantage, but the market should be robust for several players, although competitive.
lightminded 12/5/2012 | 2:57:38 PM
re: Cisco, Nortel Tee Off in Telepresence I don't think people realize just how far ahead Cisco is not only in their technology but their vision regarding Telepresence. This was posted on Cisco's public site about a month ago.

http://newsroom.cisco.com/News...

On Stage is Cisco's next generation version of Telepresence. What you'll see is lifesize, 3D, holographic images transported across Cisco's current Telepresence infrastructure. This story is just begining.

OK, Nortel, your move...
Belzebutt 12/5/2012 | 2:57:35 PM
re: Cisco, Nortel Tee Off in Telepresence What you'll see is lifesize, 3D, holographic images across Cisco's current Telepresence infrastructure.

And how do you display these 3D images on Cisco's current two plasma screens?

VR guru Jaron Lanier described a system like this at the Nortel HDX launch 8 years ago. He was on stage, all excited about how the HDX's bandwidth would allow transmission of 3D room information.
^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 2:57:35 PM
re: Cisco, Nortel Tee Off in Telepresence regards your post and I quote: "It's not a 2D flat screen but 3D holographic images being projected across the same infrastructure".

I would disagree with you. Might be using the same general architecture, but I guarantee the 3d images are not across the same "infrastructure". I am certain this method uses more bandwidth and a bit more deterministic router forwarding table. Additionally the "different display technology" is not so simple. almost certainly they are using some kind of projector with the images rendered on some kind of semitransparent scrim. Only works on a really dark stage like on the presentation Chambers did.

Finally, if you listen to Chamber's speech carefully, you will here him say that 'of course the enterprise must be engineered (or re-engineered) to provide such an experience'.

I firmly believe this is not a breakthrough. But rather a great tour de force showing graphically some of the kinds of things that can be done with sufficient bandwidth. They have done a great job bolting it all together.

And I firmly believe that the key words in Chamber's entire speech on on Cisco's site is that the "enterprise needs to be carefully engineered to support this technology". SELL more routers! hah. Listen carefully to Chamber's speech.

If this technology starts to take off, then you can bet the bigger winner will be the other divisions of Cisco that makes fast routers, fast switches, etc.

I see it as an incredible sales and marketing tool to sell yet another upgrade of the infrastructure.

As far as the utility of the new system: does it make me have to go to yet more meetings and thereby once again reduce the number of productive hours at the work place?

Sailboat
lightminded 12/5/2012 | 2:57:35 PM
re: Cisco, Nortel Tee Off in Telepresence Were you able to see the video? The point is this isn't powerpoint... It's a different type of display technology all together. It's not a 2D flat screen but 3D holographic images being projected across the same infrastructure. All that's being changed is the display technology. Regardless of what companies technologies is being used, think about the implications of being able to now virtualize people anywhere in the world...
chook0 12/5/2012 | 2:57:35 PM
re: Cisco, Nortel Tee Off in Telepresence Sure. And the CRS-1 scales to 97 terabits/second. Of course, you'll have to wait about 3 generations of silicon and replace everything, but it scales.

I am sure Nortel can develop equivalent powerpoint.

--chook
lightminded 12/5/2012 | 2:57:32 PM
re: Cisco, Nortel Tee Off in Telepresence "The goal in a telepresentation, as our reporters have recently witnessed, is to make the participants of what we used to label a "conference call" feel as if they're in the same room together. The people are life-sized. Their voices give some approximation of how close or far away they are. The images are bright and vibrant, and the sound is crisp and loud."

Sailboat- I absolutely agree you; it's usually the case that you're going to have to upgrade the infrastrucure and add more bandwidth to support new applications. No doubt Mr. Chambers wants companies to upgrade their routers, switches to support these applications just like he did eight years ago with the advent of IPT.

I think it exciting to think about new applications in fields like medicine, business and (adult?) entertainment ;-) that could come as a result of this new technology.

With bandwidth like FiOS becoming more available to consumers, I wonder when Telepresence services will be available in homes? With globalization moving at such a quick speed, rising energy costa and increased pressure to become green I think this technology holds great promise for our industry.



HOME
Sign In
SEARCH
CLOSE
MORE
CLOSE