ATandT, Polycom Team Up to Expand Hosted Video Meeting Options

AT&T will leverage Polycom’s RealPresence video conferencing platform as part of a larger expansion of offerings in its hosted telepresence service.

AT&T is expanding its hosted video collaboration service, including adding Polycom€™s RealPresence platform to make it easier for business users to host, schedule and join video meetings on AT&T€™s network.

The carrier also is supporting Cisco Systems€™ new three-screen TX9000 Series telepresence offerings, expanding the interoperability of its telepresence services, and enabling users to conduct video conferences through its hosted AT&T Telepresence Solution without having to reserve video resources ahead of time or to register with AT&T.

The goal is to create a service where conducting a video conference is as easy as making a telephone call, according to Alan Benway, executive director of AT&T Telepresence Solution (ATS).

€œAT&T is invested in providing enhanced video services without borders,€ Benway said in a statement. €œAT&T customers have the freedom to choose from the broadest set of endpoints and the freedom to meet at the time that best suits them while leveraging their immersive rooms, group systems, mobile devices, laptops or desktops.€

Through the collaboration with Polycom, which was announced July 31, AT&T is broadening the hosted call control features it offers, ranging from desktops to conference rooms, including a host of video endpoints from Cisco. Teaming up with Polycom will simplify the process for business users looking to use ATS by taking all the tools needed to schedule, initiate, manage and link the various endpoints found in the AT&T service, rather than having to be provided by users on their own networks.

AT&T also is supporting Polycom€™s HDX desktop and conference room video solutions, and its OTX and RPX immersive theater systems that support the Telepresence Interoperability Protocol (TIP), a movement first initiated by Cisco but which has since been taken over by a standards body and embraced by Polycom, LifeSize Communications and other vendors. The move by AT&T will offer users native single- and multi-screen interoperability between endpoints from Polycom and Cisco.

Polycom, which is making an effort to expand its software capabilities, has been pushing for greater interoperability between standard and nonstandard protocols, according to Gary Testa, the company€™s global vice president for cloud and service providers. Polycom was a founding member of the Open Visual Communications Consortium (OVCC), which is driving for greater interoperability among video conferencing platforms. Cisco joined the group in June.

€œPolycom€™s reputation for cross-platform interoperability, even on multi-point calls, makes us a natural choice for customers looking to collaborate with colleagues, customers and partners,€ Testa said in a statement.

Along with the work with Polycom, AT&T also is offering more managed services bundles that include a wider array of endpoints, including Cisco€™s TX9000 Series. The TX9000 was introduced in May, and offers a host of new features, including new cameras and new collaboration capabilities like being able to put content on the main TelePresence screens and move content from one screen to the next. It€™s also easier to operate and less costly to own, according to Cisco officials.

AT&T also is making it easier for users to get a video meeting up and running on the ATS, even if they€™re not registered on the AT&T Business Exchange. Users with single-screen endpoints can now join scheduled meetings via a corporate VPN or the Internet by calling into the AT&T Business Exchange, and users now can hold meetings without having to make reservations through a host of networks. They also can do so through a wider variety of endpoints, from tablets to desktops to conference room systems.

Users can leverage such video applications like Cisco€™s Jabber Video for TelePresence, Polycom€™s RealPresence Mobile and LifeSize€™s ClearSea.