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Can't Afford TelePresence? Rent It

Cisco TelePresence: It's nifty technology, but not everyone can afford it. But that's where  Starwood Hotels and Resorts steps in. They've unveiled their first in-hotel Cisco TelePresence meeting suites. That means they're 'public' to the extent that you'd like to rent one. The flagship hotels?  The W Chicago City Center in Illinois and the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney, Australia. But more are coming, and soon.

Dave Courbanou

February 25, 2010

3 Min Read
Can't Afford TelePresence? Rent It

tele_cisco_smCisco TelePresence: It’s nifty technology, but not everyone can afford it. But that’s where  Starwood Hotels and Resorts steps in. They’ve unveiled their first in-hotel Cisco TelePresence meeting suites. That means they’re ‘public’ to the extent that you’d like to rent one. The flagship hotels?  The W Chicago City Center in Illinois and the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney, Australia. But more are coming, and soon. Here’s the scoop about the new plan and partnerships…

If you’re unfamiliar with why TelePresence is such a big deal (and light years ahead of your webcam), Cisco has gone out of its way to provide a “true-to-life” meeting with a “face-to-face” sensation. By using  ultra-high definition video, crisp  audio and life-size screens to enable a life-like view of all participants, Cisco makes Skype look like something out of the stone-age.

The idea was launched in June of 2009, when Starwood partnered with Tata Communications. The original plans laid out building Cisco TelePresence rooms in 10 properties across the world. So with two down, the next project is to build two more to open in the first half of this year: One will be in the Sheraton Towers in New York City, while another will be at the Sheraton Center in Toronto. Later in 2010, plans are underway to add  The Westin Los Angeles Airport, and centers in business markets like Dallas, San Francisco, Brussels, Paris, Hong Kong and Frankfurt.

If you’re up for it, you can make reservations right now using Tata Communications’ online portal. They’re ‘conveniently’ taking all major credit cards.

Starwood’s overall goal with this isn’t just to have the new cool toy on the block; it’s also part of their business plan to incorporate technology, virtual meetings and social media making life easier on the upcoming generations of business workers and travelers.

A few words from Starwood:

“The launch of the new Cisco TelePresence meeting suites at the W Chicago and Sheraton on the Park Sydney is another example of Starwood’s commitment to [a] solution that facilitates a ‘face-to-face’ meeting in the same room regardless of global location,” said Christie Hicks, Senior Vice President of Global Sales for Starwood.

…and  then from Tata Communications:

“This opening is just the first step in that direction with many more in other key markets soon to follow this year,” said Peter Quinlan, Director, Managed Telepresence Services, Tata Communications.

Lastly, from Cisco:

“More businesses are recognizing the value of being able to rent Cisco TelePresence …having meeting facilities in a comfortable setting … can help to take some of the grind out of traveling. The value of public suites facilities increases exponentially as more rooms from more providers come on stream…making these facilities more practical for business,” said Mark Weidick, VP/GM for Cisco’s TelePresence Exchange Business Unit.

Tata Communications also would like to remind you that the public facility can also be used to connect to existing TelePresence rooms (not just hotel ones), and it’s ‘affordable per hour’ though no dollar signs have shown themselves. Tata Communications also has several operational public rooms in India, the UK, and USA, Manila with PLDT in the Philippines and Johannesburg with Neotel in South Africa.

How soon until we stop shipping ourselves all over the place and just commute to the nearest metro area for a TelePresence meeting? Hopefully soon.

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