AT&T and BT join forces for better telepresence connectivity

AT&T and BT have announced plans to collaborate on telepresence connectivity, the first inter-provider exchange-to-exchange deal of its kind.

Virtual reality: an example of a telepresence conference


The new service allows customers of AT&T and BT to connect using their Cisco Telepresence endpoints. Other companies such as Orange and Tata Communications are at work on similar projects but the AT&T and BT joint venture is the first commercial deployment. BT and AT&T now have 2,000 endpoints between them internationally.

“The technology has evolved to a point where it’s convenient and works well,” said Alan Benway, executive director of product marketing management at AT&T: “What we’re talking about is an immersive telepresence which has some unique characteristics, making it necessary to work together with another provider like BT.”

The joint venture might now lead to the increased popularity of telepresence, inspiring other providers to join forces, say analysts.

Brian Washburn, research analyst at Current Analysis, said: “With this new step we’re seeing closed networks joined together so we get something that looks like a public telepresence video network. It’s not yet nearly as advanced as some other public network principals but it gets us closer to that point.”

BT and AT&T are the two largest shareholders of Cisco Telepresence endpoints meaning that their joint endeavour has put even greater pressure on smaller companies to get connected, according to Washburn.

Marc Hambley, senior product manager at BT, said: “The entire state of the telepresence market has a stake in the outcome and success in what BT and AT&T are doing here.”