Verizon and BT announced a deal enabling each of their respective customers initiate high-quality video conferences and telepresence sessions. I spoke with representatives from BT and Verizon to learn more about their collaboration.
Marc Hambley, Sr. Product Manager at BT explained, "We are connecting our respective telepresence exchanges together - that will allow BT clients to have meetings with Verizon clients, either hosted on BT service or Verizon service. It goes both ways equally. What it really does for our clients is that they can include in their conversations a broader number of suppliers, customers and business relationships." He continued, "We're trying to make business-to-business video collaboration more accessible to a greater number of clients."
Verizon and BT are connecting their private networks together using security devices to maintain a secure perimeter, while adding the benefit of quality of service, which is required when performing high-bandwidth videoconferencing and telepresence. Under this new agreement, customers of Verizon and BT are now able to communicate with each other via Cisco TelePresence. Verizon already has a similar interconnect agreement with Tata with two other interconnect agreements in the works but not yet announced. BT has interconnect agreements with AT&T, Tata, and OBS.
I asked about interconnecting with other telepresence / videoconferencing products, such as ones from Polycom, which support the TIP protocol. I was told that currently this deal is exclusively for Cisco Telepresence (CTS) endpoints, but Christine Howley. Senior Product Manager for Verizon mentioned, "there would be several exciting announcements by several carriers over the next several months because the interoperability or the any-to-any goal of the client base is pushing everybody toward that objective."Verizon and BT telepresence customers will experience the same interface and service quality they do today, with similar scheduling, support, security and encryption. In addition, customers will have access to a directory to determine which organizations are registered and are available for intercarrier telepresence meetings, and where the sites are located. Customers will continue to rely on their respective service providers as a single point of contact for telepresence support, assistance and billing.
Mike Palmer, vice president of product strategy for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said: “This agreement makes video communications more widely available to meet the needs of the evolving nature of work. We believe that enabling customers to communicate across networks will speed the adoption of video communications and that one day it will become as ubiquitous as voice communications. As businesses adopt collaboration and mobility technologies to expand beyond the four walls of a traditional office, we’re seeing more of our customers turning to advanced collaboration tools like telepresence to help boost their overall productivity and performance.”
Rich Lowe, CEO of BT Conferencing, said, “This agreement, the latest expansion of the video industry’s connectivity capabilities, is an important step forward. Being able to connect across telepresence networks greatly expands the reach and value of the service. The more locations customers can reach, the greater the business benefit and the more quickly they can realize return on their video investment.”