Cisco accredits BT to sell conferencing kit

Certification sees BT become one of only three firms selling the high-end video-conferencing package in the UK but customers remain scarce

BT has achieved accreditation to sell Cisco's TelePresence video-conferencing equipment, the companies announced on Monday.

Acquiring Cisco's TelePresence Connection certification means that BT becomes one of only three firms — and the only telco — to sell the top-end video-conferencing kit in the UK.

TelePresence, at $300,000 (£151,094) per site, is designed to replicate the experience of sitting across the table from business colleagues by using high-tech cameras, surround-sound systems and three large plasma screens at each site.

According to BT, the certification process covers not only network performance but also "adds best practices based on current industry standards for network management, including staff, processes and tools".

There are just three named TelePresence customers, according to Cisco, eight months after the product was made available.  

Nevertheless BT is optimistic, claiming it will soon close further deals. "We can't mention other customers at the moment, but we've got a fairly strong pipeline," said Simon Farr, BT Global Services' head of marketing for convergence infrastructure.

BT is incorporating TelePresence into its Unified Communications package under the name "Unified Communications Video"./> "It fits in the portfolio very neatly as a high-end solution today, alongside everything from instant messaging through to video calls," Farr said, adding that BT was well placed to provide the robust infrastructure needed to support the technology. TelePresence uses up to 12Mbps of bandwidth during a conference.

Farr suggested that, although the initial target market for Unified Communications Video would be "larger organisations on a multinational scale", the technology could prove of interest to smaller businesses. "As time progresses, we see more and more applications for a smaller-scale solution with a single-screen option, which we're already starting to see some of our customers talk about," he said.

Dimension Data and systems integrator 2e2 are the other two companies which sell TelePresence systems in the UK.