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Telepresence Interop Comes to the Commons

Mar 08, 2011, by Doug Howell
Tags: Audio Video Communications Infrastructure, imported, Internet2 Video Exchange, Video Services, Video, Voice & Collaboration

It's been a long time coming, but telepresence interoperability is real, and it's coming to the Commons.

Telepresence means a lot of different things to different people, so some background is required. Broadly, telepresence is any technology that allows a person to feel as if they were present at a different location. There are many ways to accomplish this, and our industry members in this space including Cisco, Evogh, IOCOM, Lifesize, Polycom, Radvision, and Vidyo each provide their own unique solutions.

One of the methods used to enhance the immersive quality of telepresence has been to use multiple screens and cameras. This is highly effective, but the current H.323 and SIP standards don’t really address how to deal with these additional screens. This created a situation where multipoint calling across different vendors was messy and required a lot of operator intervention. Additionally, Cisco TelePresence was originally designed to leverage Cisco Call Manager for signaling, making it impossible for those endpoint to communicate with traditional H.323 endpoints and bridges.

A standard that has emerged to address both of these issues is the Telepresence Interoperability Protocol (TIP). A TIP enabled bridge, with the necessary infrastructure connections, will be able to support multi-point multi-screen calling between any TIP enabled endpoints. This includes H.323 and Cisco TelePresence, which is kind of a big deal.

The Internet2 Commons has done H.323 bridging for years, and one of our most important principles is interoperability. This is why we’re excited about our recent investment in a Cisco TelePresence Server – this carrier-class chunk of hardware will expand our HD bridging capacity while adding the capability to include H.323, SIP, and Cisco TelePresence endpoints in calls together, with multi-screen units behaving correctly. We're also excited about Polycom's announced support of the TIP standard - while our Polycom RMX 2000 has long supported multi-screen bridging for Polycom telepresence, the addition of TIP there will bring multi-screen cross-vendor interoperability to our entire HD bridging infrastructure. The dialing infrastructure behind this is important as well – we’re going to be leveraging Cisco Video Communication Servers to support the existing Global Dialing Scheme in conjunction with SIP URIs and E.164 phone numbers coming from Cisco TelePresence. If all goes as planning, when the dust settles we'll have the basis for a national video dialing infrastructure that spans H.323, SIP, and Cisco TelePresence.

It’s an exciting time for us, and we’re looking forward to sharing more information about these new capabilities as it becomes available. [Internet2 News]