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Will Carriers Bring Us Business to Business Telepresence?

Today telepresence is largely confined to the enterprise network. We have seen announcements from some of the carriers that they are now providing Business to Business (B2B) telepresence between enterprises on their own networks. But providing B2B video between networks is still quite elusive. Will the carriers step up and connect to each other with high quality, QoS enabled peering points to allow true B2B video collaboration? The video teams I have spoken to within the carriers are still working to get their management to understand the importance of video and telepresence to their business. They are seeing some early results where telepresence deployments drive high bandwidth use of high quality network connections. High bandwidth use of high quality connections (QoS enabled) quickly translates into increased revenue. For the carriers, this is a good thing.

Much of the activity in Telepresence is from large multi-national enterprises with global footprints. The service providers that benefit from the bandwidth they demand are large multi-national service providers because the company needs a good network connection in each geographic location where telepresence is deployed. Regional players don't have a chance.

This means that there is a limited playing field, as there are not that many big guys who have the geographic footprint to solve the problem. And they are competing with each other for this interesting high margin business.

For the global service providers, connecting their networks together looks like they are giving up revenue to a competitor. If a global enterprise can take advantage of two different network providers and know that they will properly connect the traffic, they can use each carrier in the geographies where they have the best pricing and make the overall solution much more price transparent. Good for the enterprise but less revenue for the individual carriers.

Of course the counter argument is that enabling B2B video will stimulate the market for video and telepresence. Businesses will be able to depend on using video collaboration for meetings, will plan for lower travel costs, build business models around the use of video, plan partnerships with far-flung teams and build video into their everyday work plans. This rising tide will lift all players in the bandwidth game and provide increased revenue.

Some parts of the world have many more regional network service providers, such as Asia/Pacific. Service providers in these areas may be much more interested in B2B solutions because by connecting to other service providers they extend their reach, rather than create competition. Some strategic connections may allow them to address larger companies that have offices throughout Asia/Pac where they previously could not provide cost effective network connectivity.

But that is the future and this is now. How can we get B2B video connections going now so that early adopters have a network solution? If early adopters are successful they will push on their carriers for cost effective solutions and the rest will follow.

In my next few posts I will look at the solutions currently being provided to the market and see how they work, what features and value they bring, and speculate on how this capability will evolve going forward.