Alphawest and Optus roll out Cisco telepresence

Government, corporates and remote training identified as potential markets for high-end solution

Optus, in conjunction with integration subsidiary Alphawest, has become the first Cisco customer to deploy the vendor's multipoint TelePresence solution in Australia.

The telco has rolled out systems in two Sydney locations and one in Melbourne. Alphawest general manager of technology solutions, Ian Smith, said it had wanted to develop a virtual alternative to cut back physical travel.

"We want to encourage people to use this technology for collaboration. Being certified and able to offer the solution to our customers was the other reason behind the deployment," he said.

Smith said customer interest was now coming from top-end corporate and government verticals.

"As the technology pushes through interest will be generated in smaller organisations. There's some early interest in medical and training sectors - providing expert help remotely is a significant potential application," he said.

As a subsidiary of Optus, Smith said Alphawest would be working closely with the telco on a go-to-market strategy. "Optus will offer the technology and we'll go in and supply the end-to-end solution on Optus' Evolve Network," he said.

Gaining certification for the TelePresence solution was a detailed process, Smith claimed. In addition to hardware and software technology training a TelePresence solution requires lighting, sound and room construction to be consistent in each TelePresence deployment.

"The process is very different from our previous experience with teleconferencing," he said.

Cisco chief technology officer of emerging markets, Guido Jouret, predicted the use of video-based communication would become more pervasive as technology challenges, such as storage and bandwidth issues, are resolved.

Jouret said a TelePresence solution could use up to 15MBps. "We're keen to enable carriers such as AT&T and BT in the US to allow companies to call one another - we see it as having huge potential as value-adding services," he said.

Cisco vice-president A/NZ, Les Williamson, said the vendor's own TelePresence deployment, which is in place in Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne and Auckland, has reduced its travel budget by 20 per cent.