VoiceCon: Cisco Brings TelePresence Downstream, Enhances UC Portfolio

Cisco at VoiceCon unveiled a new TelePresence System aimed at smaller companies that can't budget for the larger full-room systems. The Cisco TelePresence System 1300 Series is designed for up to six people and features one 65-inch plasma screen and three cameras. The system uses existing conference room tables for deployments in branch offices or smaller locations. The three cameras are activated by voice cues to capture who is speaking at any given time, said Erica Schroeder, Cisco's TelePresence marketing director. VoiceCon, the VoIP and communications conference taking place this week in Orlando, Fla., is owned by United Business Media, the parent company of Channelweb.com.

Schroeder said having a one-screen system cuts down on the bandwidth consumption of the larger three-screen models, the TelePresence 3000 and 3200 series, requiring only 5 Mbps of bandwidth. The high-definition screen offers 1,080p resolution. The 1300 Series is expected to cost just under $85,000.

And for bandwidth-conscious TelePresence users, Cisco also added TelePresence Extended Reach to its arsenal, which enables TelePresence systems to run over connections as low as 1.5 Mbps, or a standard T1 connection, in 720p resolution. It also supports TelePresence over open Internet connections like high-speed FIOS and DOCSIS connections.

Additionally, Cisco is offering two new TelePresence applications. First is TelePresence Recording Studio, which lets users create video messages and record presentations for instant playback on Cisco TelePresence units in 1,080p high-definition quality. Users can also view the recorded sessions on any standard-resolution video-enabled device, like a PC, mobile phone or digital sign.

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"Anybody who can access a TelePresence room has access to a high-definition recording studio," Schroeder said, adding that recordings can be pushed out as an e-mail link or to TelePresence systems.

The second application, TelePresence Event Controls, enables the production of internal and external TelePresence events.

"For customers, the world of collaboration is shifting; it's not about one product," said Rick McConnell, Cisco's vice president of unified communications marketing development, adding that companies are turning to unified communications and TelePresence to cut travel costs, boost productivity and save time. "All of these, in some sense, are building a better collaboration experience."

Cisco at VoiceCon also rolled out several enhancements to its unified communications portfolio.

The underpinning of Cisco's unified communications enhancements is integration and the ability to extend interoperability across applications and devices, McConnell said.

Collaboration has been a key focus for Cisco since the September launch of its collaboration portfolio, which comprises unified communications, TelePresence and Web 2.0 applications, part of Cisco's strategy to grab a share of the $34 billion collaboration market.

Cisco at VoiceCon unveiled Unified Communications Desktop Integration, a unified client services framework that delivers Cisco unified communications services like softphones, messaging, conferencing, desk phone control and presence and allows them to integrate with desktop applications like Cisco WebEx Connect and Microsoft Office Communicator, Microsoft's unified communications client.

Tying WebEx Connect with unified communications capabilities unlocks a seamless experience that lets customers combine cloud-based services with the capabilities of Cisco's on-premise unified communications solutions, the company said. On the Office Communicator side, the integration gives users access to call control and other unified communications features through their Microsoft Office Communicator client, without requiring a separate client for Cisco tools.

In addition, the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant launched "any to any" video interoperability in its WebEx Meeting Center, meaning any device that can connect to a Cisco Unified Video Conferencing multipoint control unit can now be deployed in a WebEx meeting, including Cisco TelePresence and other videoconferencing and desktop collaboration applications.

"It's no longer just WebEx to WebEx," McConnell said. "It really enriches the experience."

Also for WebEx, Cisco added a one-button feature for Cisco Unified IP Phones that lets users launch a WebEx session on their desktops with the push of a button on their phone.

And for mobile users, Cisco unveiled the Mobile Supervisor for Apple iPhone. The Mobile Supervisor is for Cisco Unified Contact Center Express, McConnell said, and enables contact center supervisors to receive realtime reports, notices and performance metrics on their iPhone or iPod Touch devices.

With Mobile Supervisor, contact center chiefs can stay in touch with their contact centers while on the go, analyzing and responding to changes and issues using their smartphones. That application is available through the Apple iTunes AppStore as a free download, McConnell said.