No. 1-Ranked BT Conferencing Talks Business Video

Feature Article

No. 1-Ranked BT Conferencing Talks Business Video

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines  |  June 01, 2011

BT Conferencing was identified as the No. 1 telepresence and videoconferencing managed service provider this spring by ABI Research, which made its rankings based on implementation and innovation criteria.

Videoconferencing managed services specialist Glowpoint came in second. AT&T (News - Alert) ranked third.

“BT Conferencing combines its capabilities in network provisioning and management, and in telepresence managed services, to deliver a compelling value proposition to enterprises looking to deploy pervasive video,” says Subha Rama, a senior analyst at ABI Research. “The Wire One acquisition and the synergies with BT Global Services have helped build a comprehensive services portfolio.”

BT had a fledgling videoconferencing business earlier this decade, but it moved into the space full force with its 2008 acquisition of Wire One, which was the leader in videoconferencing globally, both from a product resale and managed services standpoint, BT Conferencing CEO Jeff Prestel tells INTERNET TELEPHONY.

He says BT Conferencing was named the No. 1 teleconferencing provider by ABI Research for its large installed base (800 systems installed and more than 1,100 managed); its high customer satisfaction; and its broad availability of options for videoconferencing, which it offers as a managed service, from the cloud, and in hybrid architectures.

“We have, I believe, the most telepresence [systems] installed on the globe, and we get highest marks for quality and customer satisfaction,” says Prestel.

The CEO also points to the “innovative” tools BT Conferencing offers to allow customers to launch videoconferences easily, on the fly and without pre-scheduling hassles.

Prestel says that the company is seeing double-digit growth year over year for business video services. Now that businesses are starting to free up their capital expenditures, he adds, we’re in the midst of a transformation in which technology is changing the way business is conducted – and video, he says, is at the heart of this transformation.

For example, he says, Pepsi last year moved from a HP Halo solution to a Cisco (News - Alert) TelePresence one. The food and beverage company is now one of the largest users of Cisco TelePresence because BT showed it the ROI and how it could use the technology to work more closely with its distribution and supply chains.

He adds that getting a business video solution used to be like buying a Cadillac – you could do it, but you had to pay a premium. Today, however, business video is becoming more mainstream, so there’s a push to lower costs.

“It will, however, by no means get commoditized,” he says.

Dropping costs, and new interoperability and video peering initiatives, are also expected to drive the broader uptake of business video.

BT Conferencing has been on the forefront of all this. As discussed in the February issue of Unified Communications (News - Alert) Magazine, a sister publication to INTERNET TELEPHONY, BT and AT&T were the first companies in the industry to launch inter-carrier telepresence.

“This is an exciting development – it's  like the early days of telephone exchanges, but for video,” Marc Hambley, senior product manager at BT Conferencing, commented in that piece. “Letting customers communicate via telepresence outside their own enterprise helps them maximize business benefit and more quickly realize ROI. I believe this will be a big boost to video.”

Prestel notes that BT Conferencing has two major exchanges, one in Denver and one in London; AT&T has a single U.S. exchange; and Tata – which has since come into partnership with the two companies on inter-carrier exchange – has two exchanges, one in the U.S. and one in India. Those exchanges allow customers to communicate via a secure VPN, so they can talk between carriers and countries, he explains. Prestel adds that three other carriers are likely to be added into the mix in short order.

That is an important step toward enabling video communications anywhere to anyone, says Prestel. The next step, he adds, is to enable video communications on any system.

In line with that, BT expects to launch this month or next interoperability that will allow its customers to communicate between systems from Cisco, Polycom (News - Alert), Tandberg and LifeSize.

And while Prestel says that products like Apple FaceTime and Skype video are not yet up to snuff for enterprise use, he says the quality of such solutions is getting better and is likely to become a bigger part of business video, especially for remote users. Maybe that’s why LifeSize recently announced integration with Skype (News - Alert), he adds.

Edited by Jennifer Russell


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