A major event set up to showcase the latest generation of videoconferencing technology has been cancelled as the organisers "wait for enhancements to the technology".
TelePresence World was due to be held at London Docklands' flagship Excel centre in March, and it had attracted heavyweight sponsors such as Cisco, HP and BT. It was also backed by the British Computer Society and a dozen trade newspapers and websites.
But just a month before the event, the organiser, US-based Hemisphere Expo Services, unexpectedly pulled the plug on the London event, although it still plans to run an equivalent event in Boston, Massachusetts, in September.
In a note posted on its website, Hemisphere said that it had cancelled the event to wait for enhancements to the technology. "Telepresence World 2008 London has been postponed in order to capture new, key developments in the field of telepresence technology, that are set to be announced in the next few months," it said. "The decision to move from the London location was not taken lightly, and was for reasons of practical co-ordination and timing."
The company would not expand on its reasoning.
Concerns have been growing over the low volume of sales of TelePresence equipment. It is a fledgling technology, having only been launched in 2006. It is currently aimed at the large corporate market, because it costs typically £150,000 per site plus installation. It also requires 15Mbps of bandwidth per call.
Cisco and HP both sell TelePresence equipment, while BT resells Cisco's proposition along with its network and installation services. Cisco has sold just 24 units in Europe.
Besides showcasing TelePresence, the London conference was also due to discuss unified communications, which would include products such as Cisco Call Manager, and presence — software that shows whether a work colleague or friend is available to talk or correspond. Unified communications and presence have been more widely adopted by businesses.