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October 02, 2009

Cisco-Tandberg Acquisition to Elevate Telepresence Provider BrightCom

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor

While some industry officials say that Cisco Systems, Inc.’s recent announcement to acquire video conferencing provider TANDBERG will limit customers’ choices and toughen the playing field for competitors, a Huntington Beach, Calif.-based provider of integrated telepresence and video conferencing solutions said the deal is actually a good thing for the industry.
“This is great news for the video conferencing industry,” Bob McCandless, CEO of BrightCom, told TMCnet in an interview. “Cisco (News - Alert) has done an excellent job of educating the world about telepresence and its benefits. The industry has greatly expanded because of this. Another advantage of Cisco's acquisition of Tandberg (News - Alert) is the added support for common integrated standards, which was lacking in the Cisco conferencing strategy. This is great news for customers and the entire video conferencing industry. Customers will now be able to select products from multiple vendors as opposed to being locked into a single non-standardized vendor solution.”
The merger, which will be complete in 2010, will put BrightCom in a “tremendous position,” McCandless said. “If anything, it will highlight BrightCom as alternative end-to-end, multipoint video conferencing provider,” he said. “From a competitive standpoint, the acquisition will not bring new technology to the market. It will, however, open up the market and allow more opportunities for BrightCom to integrate with Cisco's systems.
Under the nearly $3 billion deal, Cisco plans to integrate TANDBERG’s video endpoints and network infrastructure solution into its collaboration architecture, allowing intercompany and multi-vendor interoperability across its product portfolio. Cisco officials said the acquisition would help strengthen the company’s position in the $34 million collaboration market and expand its presence as a player in the videoconferencing sector.
When the merger is complete, TANDBERG CEO Fredrik Halvorsen will lead the new so-called “TelePresence Technology Group” and report to Martin De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco's Emerging Technologies Group.
The acquisition eliminates one of Cisco’s major competitors while it boosts the portfolio of services for small- to medium-sized businesses that are more cost-effective. Meanwhile for TANDBERG, the merger adds a channel and sales force that normally connects with a more strategic approach, TMCnet reported.
TANDBERG, which operates joint headquarters in Oslo, Norway, and New York, offers telepresence, high-definition video conferencing and mobile video products and services. The company designs, develops and markets systems and software for video, voice and data communication. The firm has 1,500 employees worldwide.
The acquisition signals increasing interest in the video conferencing field, officials said.
It “validates the fact that videoconferencing in the enterprise has finally arrived,” Roopam Jain, principal analyst in Frost & Sullivan's (News - Alert) conferencing and collaboration practice, told TMCnet in an interview. “Travel cost-cutting imperatives, a focus on increasingly productivity, and environmental initiatives, have all put videoconferencing in the limelight in the last year.”
As industry observers wait for the deal to be final,
BrightCom, for example, said it will continue to provide the widest line of telepresence solutions. Recently, the company launched the L37, a new offering that is part of Lumina Telepresence (News - Alert) line designed for business collaboration. The modular solution offers a turnkey environment integrating immersive telepresence with Web conferencing functions for instant, life-like communication. 

Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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