Orange looks to revitalise video conferencing

Orange Business Services, the France Telecom owned brand, has announced the latest attempt to revitalise video conferencing, saying that conditions are now right for the technology to succeed.

At a press event that connected London, Paris and Beijing through its cloud-based video conferencing solution Telepresence Pass, the chief executive for Orange Business Services, Vivek Badrinath, said that a crucial difference of over previous iterations of the technology was that it was cloud-based enabling it to be fully managed by Orange.

Badrinath said it is attractive to users as it is very easy to use and that modern video usage had increased the appetite for video based communications. “Video as such is become much more important in interaction,” he said. “The fact that people watch short videos means that the taste for video communications has increased.”

Badrinath said a key benefit of the Telepresence Pass service was that it was compatible with multiple carriers and vendors such as Polycom and Cisco. He said Orange has 300 video staff trained to support the service worldwide and that it is backed by a 24/7 concierge service.

Orange said the service performs best when a dedicated telepresence room is used as these offers uniform conditions that optimise lighting and audio, which enhance the meeting experience. However, all conferences can also be accessed over the public internet using mobile devices such as PCs, and iOS powered phones and tablets.

To enhance the service, Badrinath said that Orange has invested €750m during 2011 to extend network coverage and improve QoS. Asia Pacific, Europe and U.S. are now interconnected using dual 10G belts, while Europe was enhanced with a 40G/100G optical network. Emerging countries meanwhile had benefitted from a 20 per cent increase in network capacity and coverage.

Pieter Schoehuijs, of Dutch paint company AkzoNobel, spoke at the launch to explain how it had successfully introduced the Orange technology to help connect its 80 global offices. In response to a question on whether there was any resistance from staff on using telepresence considering it would reduce the opportunity for travel, Schoehuijs responded that senior executives who would otherwise have to travel very frequently actually welcomed the technology. “The travel is fun to start with, but that chewing gum loses its flavour real quick,” he said.

Schoehuijs also highlighted the green credentials of the Orange service, stating that AkzoNobel had made an investment of €7-8m in the Orange Telepresence service but that it had saved the company about 50,000 hours a year based on 4,000 people participating in the teleconferencing, equating to 25 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. “Not only is it financially attractive, but from a sustainability perspective, it’s quite frankly a no brainer,” he said.

The service is available now available directly on an Orange dedicated MPLS network in 67 countries, and up to 106 countries using leased lines. Costs range between €400-€4000 per month depending on the number of screens and requires 2Mb/s of bandwidth per screen for 1080p connectivity.

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