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Telepresence Update:
CTS Interoperability Launches, Competitors Eye UC Models

| Nov 17, 2011 | IP Telephony and UC Services
| Analyst: Brian Washburn

In November 2011, major competitors either are about to launch, or have just launched, full interoperability between Cisco TelePresence System (CTS) immersive video endpoints and other standard platforms supporting SD/HD and even immersive video. Throwing open the doors to inter-platform conferencing opens up a world of possibilities for companies that have deployed CTS to date. These companies' legacy ISDN dialup video, or lower-end video over IP platforms using their IP/MPLS or public Internet connections, can now become part of the conversation of an end-to-end corporate telepresence strategy; or they can now add lower-cost, lower-bandwidth endpoints than CTS into their mix of telepresence services.

In practice, moving beyond CTS into other platforms is not quite that easy, but the hurdles are being addressed proactively by service providers. The new functionality makes inter-platform access possible, but appending the new functionality to customers' contracts, with changes in demand patterns in mind, as well as figuring out how to price high-end vs. low-end access, is a loose end that needs to be wrapped up. Another loose end is how immersive video compatibility now fits into providers' existing SD/HD video services. This includes building a unified scheduler that has the intelligence to understand the customers' needs, as well as making sure to reserve the appropriate gateways in the provider's exchange. Providers have managed to negotiate connecting their telepresence services to each other's exchanges, and even to share customer directories; however, the negotiated agreements cover CTS, not the broader universe of video endpoints.

Finally, service providers that were strong on CTS see great opportunity now that the world of standardized video conferencing formats has opened up to them; some of the major competitors serve thousands of SD/HD video endpoints, which can now be bridged with their many hundreds of CTS endpoints. On the other side are video conference services by companies that have not been big CTS adopters to date; all that stands in their way to add CTS now is a series of Cisco TelePresence certifications, with which third-party partners might help out.

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