We hadn't heard as much recently from the still young world of telepresence, but this week has seen two substantial tie-ups already - each with a different flavor.
On Tuesday, ten global service providers pledged to interconnect their business video communities by launching the Global Meeting Alliance. Launch members are Tata, Sprint, Safaricom, Telstra, Etilsat, Qtel, Mobily, Neotel, Glowpoint, and TELUS. Tata has been amongst the most active in interconnecting for telepresence, including some work directly with Sprint that preceded this. Most of the rest are large but primarily regional players who need help to go fully global, while Sprint is busy with its wireless plans. None of this group has the resources that the largest MNC-focused telecoms have, and such an alliance makes plenty of sense as a way to expand coverage.
Meanwhile, two of the very largest international network operators not on that list directly connected their telepresence systems. AT&T (NYSE:T, news, filings) and Orange Business Services (news) [a subsidiary of France Telecom (NYSE:FTE, news, filings)] today announced a new inter-provider connectivity agreement aimed at giving each company seamless access to each others' Cisco-powered endpoints. AT&T has hooked up with BT a year ago, while Orange last year linked up with Telefonica, and with Tata. Oh wait, there's Tata again, eh?
While telepresence amongst the MNC community has gained some traction, it isn't clear yet just how far the revenue opportunity has grown. Certainly the failure of Cisco's UMI effort indicates that the world isn't ready at the consumer level, so there's still a long ramp left to climb.
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