Polycom, AT&T Partner on Video Communications

AT&T will incorporate Polycom's RealPresence platform as part of the AT&T Telepresence solution video infrastructure.

Telecommunications giant AT&T and video conferencing and business communications specialist Polycom announced a strategic agreement to personalize, mobilize and virtualize video meetings, combining AT&T Business Exchange, multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), Internet and mobility networks and the Polycom RealPresence video conferencing platform.

AT&T will incorporate the RealPresence platform as part of the AT&T Telepresence solution video infrastructure in the AT&T Business Exchange, leading to on-demand virtual meeting room capabilities that increase customer choice through expanded interoperability, more flexible and user-friendly video collaboration experiences and new forms of collaboration with business customers, partners and suppliers on the AT&T Business Exchange.

"AT&T and Polycom's announcement is a big win for customer choice and interoperability, and it will help accelerate video collaboration as businesses increasingly look to cloud-delivered options," Zeus Kerravala, ZKResearch principal analyst, said. "In addition, this agreement opens new revenue streams and business opportunities for AT&T, and demonstrates the momentum Polycom is having with service providers and in the video cloud market."

In addition, AT&T Telepresence Solution customers will have access to a range of RealPresence video solutions offered in 40 countries, including immersive and multipurpose rooms, and personal systems, as part of a managed-service bundle. This approach is designed to help customers reduce their capital expenditures by providing the video equipment as part of the managed service for a monthly fee, while also helping ease the burden on internal IT resources.

"Our goal is to lead the innovation curve by introducing solutions and services that make communications easier, any time, anywhere, on any device," AT&T Business Solutions Chief Marketing Officer Michael Bowling said in a statement. "The work between AT&T and Polycom will bring customers new capabilities, help expand their reach and use of video collaboration and ultimately deliver lasting impacts by transforming how they get work done."

Polycom said it selected AT&T to become its preferred internal wide-area network (WAN) service provider using the MPLS AT&T virtual private network (VPN) service. The network will carry Polycom video, voice and data communications, including access to the AT&T Business Exchange, to and from more than 80 locations around the globe, including Polycom customer experience and briefing centers.

"Together with AT&T, we are reshaping and expanding the capabilities of cloud-delivered video communications, making it easier for businesses to connect and collaborate with each other," Polycom President and CEO Andy Miller said in a statement. "With Polycom's commitment to openness, standards and interoperability, and AT&T's commitment to networks, applications and interconnectivity, we're creating video solutions for customers that are as simple, reliable and as universal as the dial tone so they can collaborate without worrying about vendor, device or network-specific restrictions. It just works."

In addition to the most recently announced partnership, both companies are board-level founders of the Open Visual Communications Consortium (OVCC), an industry body whose mission is to develop and support a ubiquitous video marketplace. Video conferencing is growing in popularity as businesses look for ways to improve employee productivity while driving down costs, particularly travel costs, with research firm IDC predicting in March 2012 that revenues in 2012 would jump to $3.2 billion, a rise of about 18.7 percent from 2011.