Cisco drives telepresence in Africa
By Alex Kayle, Senior portals journalist
Cisco has rolled out an immersive telepresence solution, which it says will bridge the digital divide in African business, healthcare and government to improve the quality of video collaboration across borders.The TX9000 is a three-screen, 65-inch immersive telepresence platform that enables users from around the world to collaborate as if they were in the same room. It integrates with Cisco WebEx collaboration tools and is interoperable with standards-based mobile and desktop platforms from other vendors.
This announcement comes as the networking giant recently extended Jabber to iPad and Windows platforms. Cisco plans to enable Jabber users to collaborate from anywhere and across multiple technologies using voice, video, IM and Web conferencing.
Michael Smith, director of the Cisco Collaboration Group, based in London, addressed journalists situated in Cairo, Lagos and Nairobi during a telepresence meeting using the TelePresence TX9000 solution at Cisco's Bryanston offices.
Smith said: “Video is becoming more pervasive with at least one-third of organisations using video at least once a week. By 2015, there will be 200 million workers globally to take advantage of company-supplied desktop video conferencing solutions.”
He added that Cisco first innovated in telepresence technology six years ago, with the aim to give businesses the same video conferencing experience, regardless of where they are in the world.
He said Cisco has addressed concerns around high bandwidth used by older telepresence technologies in Africa. “The TX9000 series will consume 20% less bandwidth, and we've increased the quality of the video while reducing the bandwidth cost and the initial cost to set it up.”
When asked whether Cisco views free video conferencing solutions such as Skype and Google as direct competition, particularly in an African context where bandwidth is expensive, Smith said that higher user experience will determine whether a business chooses Cisco over free video platforms.
Michel de Beauregard, head of collaboration sales at Cisco SA, stated that, in Africa, IT managers are looking to provide highly secure, enterprise-class options that enable employees to interact across a broad range of tools, whether collaborating via video, desktop PCs, tablet devices or smartphones.
He indicated that there has been a large uptake by African governments that are deploying telepresence immersive rooms. “While bandwidth costs, rather than capacity, are a hurdle to broaden the immersive telepresence footprint in Africa, we are seeing an increased adoption.”
According to Cisco's latest Visual Networking Index, globally, three trillion minutes, or six million years of video content will cross the Internet each month in 2015, and by 2016, global mobile data traffic will reach 10.8 exabytes per month (130 exabytes annually); growing 18-fold from 2011 to 2016.
Cisco's Index adds that, by 2016, mobile video will represent 71% of all mobile data traffic. Middle East and Africa will have the highest regional mobile data traffic growth rate, with a compound annual growth rate of 104%, or 34-fold growth.