Cisco conferencing coming to homes

Cisco plans to bring its TelePresence system to homes in two to three years for about US$1,000.

Cisco Systems expects to take its TelePresence high-definition conferencing system from the boardroom to the living room within two or three years for about US$1,000.

The flagship TelePresence 3000 system hit the market late last year for about $300,000. It uses three big-screen displays and a high-quality audio system to recreate the feeling of an in-person meeting among colleagues anywhere in the world. Cisco also sells the one-screen TelePresence 1000. But the company thinks consumers also want that effect.

Just two weeks ago, Cisco finished its business plan for consumer TelePresence, said Charles Giancarlo, executive vice president and chief development officer. The system will use one screen -- the consumer's own large high-definition TV -- and will be designed for ease of installation and use, he said. In the beginning, it will run on a stand-alone device connected to the home broadband Internet connection. But eventually, it would probably be integrated into a set-top box and run a service delivered by the cable or telecommunications provider, Giancarlo said. Starting a year or two after introduction, prices would probably start to fall, he added.

Video is key to Cisco's growth expectations, executives told financial analysts during a conference at the company's San Jose, California, headquarters. TelePresence and other video offerings promise to drive demand for Cisco's network core routers while also generating revenue directly. Giancarlo gave his hints about the consumer conferencing system in a roundtable discussion for media at the event.

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