AT&T Telepresence Solution Goes Global, Carrier-Agnostic

AT&T has signed agreements with T-Systems and Tata Communications that will enable more users around the globe to use its Telepresence Solution.

AT&T announced that it has signed agreements with T-Systems and Tata Communications that will enable it to offer its business customers improved global telepresence services.

AT&T's Telepresence Solution offers "multipoint, intercompany connectivity"—multiple people, on various devices can join a video conference featuring 1080p full-high-definition video. Officials said it offers a "unique 'in-person' experience" that has a VPN-protected level of security but is as easy to join as placing a phone call.

The new agreements extend the capabilities of the solution to any company around the world that's connected to the AT&T Business Exchange, Tata Communications or the T-System Telepresence Community.

It also enables users to meet in scheduled and reservation-less Virtual Meeting Rooms on the AT&T Exchange.

AT&T suggests that the in-the-room-together feeling of the solution will help reduce the need for travel—which will make better use of workers' time and lower their carbon footprints—and help lead to faster decision making and issue resolution.

"It's all part of delivering on our vision of making video communication as widespread and easy to use as the telephone," AT&T said in a promotional video. "Are you ready to think outside the room?"

Peter Quinlan, vice president of integrated business video services at Tata Communications, said in a Feb. 5 statement that such intercarrier agreements are part of Tata's "long-term strategy to enable an open, global telepresence ecosystem for business video collaboration, connecting customers regardless of network or service provider."

Cisco Systems is the current leader of the $2.8 billion immersive telepresense market. Immersive refers to the feeling of, well, beyond Skype, feeling like one is really in the room with colleagues and able to have a more productive conversation.

Huawei, however, wanting to expand beyond the networking business and triple its revenue by 2021, has announced plans to steal Cisco's crown. In 2011, it saw $200 million in telepresence equipment sales.

During 2012's third quarter, the videoconferencing and telepresence markets declined by nearly 5 percent year-over-year, according to IDC.

IDC analyst Rich Costello said the decline was due to macroeconomic concerns and a continued decline in "high-end immersive systems." He added, "We also feel that customers are considering more strategic approaches to deploying video technology and applications, leading to longer decision cycles."

While Cisco's revenue in the area was down nearly 15 percent on an annual basis, it increased nearly 18 percent from its second-quarter finish and now has a 43 percent share of the market.

Polycom, which saw revenue fall by 15 percent year-over-year and "remains the clear number two vendor in the market," stated IDC, now holds a 25 percent share.

AT&T, during its fourth quarter, brought in $32.2 billion in revenue but finished with a loss of $3.9 billion, due to costs associated with its employee pension program and October's Hurricane Sandy.