Telepresence exchange creates interoperability

The world of international telepresence and video conferencing is becomingly increasingly open, as the Financial Times reports that AT&T and BT have agreed to set up a telepresence exchange serving both networks.

This agreement will see video conferencing services operated by both companies eventually become entirely interoperable. For now though, customers will need to be using Cisco’s CTS telepresence equipment.

The Financial Times reports that beyond the business arrangement itself, the exchange deal may have laid the groundwork for future telepresence standards. Currently, a wide variation in communications, capture and broadcast standards mean that many video conference facilities are relatively limited in their flexibility; able to communicate with others of the same type, rather than all systems.

Whilst BT and AT&T are not the first companies to announce plans to interconnect video conference services – Tata and Orange Business Service did so earlier this year – it appears they will be the first to actually deliver on the promise, breaking new ground for interoperable standards.

“[The] exchange-to-exchange connection marks a significant milestone in the industry,” says Brian Washburn of Current Analysis. “Exchange-to-exchange telepresence is a major stride forward in building smooth, end-to-end telepresence experiences for customers across network boundaries worldwide, and advancing Cisco’s efforts to support inter-provider connectivity for telepresence.”

Chris Clark, managing director of BT Enterprise, said he expected the agreement to play a significant role in future uptake of telepresence and video conferencing.

“Companies are looking for ways to make employees more productive, reduce carbon emissions, lower travel related costs and create a competitive advantage,” he said. “Being able to connect across telepresence networks greatly expands the reach and value of the service and maximises the business benefits.”