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AT&T to resell Cisco telepresence gear to feds

AT&T and Cisco have inked an exclusive deal that allows the carrier's government marketing arm to sell fully managed room-based video conferencing systems from Cisco to federal agencies.

AT&T has been reselling Cisco's TelePresence systems to commercial customers around the globe for a year.

Now AT&T Government Solutions is offering Cisco’s TelePresence systems to agencies on the General Services Administration’s Schedule 70 contract. AT&T also plans to add Cisco’s high-end video conferencing systems to Networx, a 10-year, $25 billion telecommunications services program run by GSA.

The AT&T Government Solutions offering includes Cisco’s TelePresence systems bundled with room set-up, monitoring, maintenance and around-the-clock help desk support. (Compare Collaboration products.) The Cisco telepresence systems operate over AT&T’s Multi-Protocol Label Switching network.

AT&T didn’t provide pricing for its telepresence solutions, saying that cost varies based on the number of locations, the length of the contract and the type of equipment used. However, Cisco’s TelePresence 3000 package, which includes three display panels, costs $249,000, while the TelePresence 1000 package, which has one display panel, costs $59,000.

Don Herring, senior vice president of AT&T Government Solutions, predicts telepresence systems will take off in the federal market because they reduce travel costs and support intra- and inter-agency collaboration as well as collaboration between the public and private sectors, which is a priority for the Obama Administration.

“We think telepresence is going to revolutionize the way meetings are done,” Herring said during a live demonstration of the service held on Tuesday. “This is a great way to collaborate.”

One pilot customer is the Department of Veterans Affairs, which bought and installed a Cisco TelePresence system at its Orlando VA Medical Center in Florida and plans to install another at its headquarters location in Washington D.C.

Dave Chiplick, director of the Office of Telecommunications at VA, said the Cisco telepresence system is part of VA’s first-generation enterprise video conferencing network. VA is a pioneer in the use of videoconferencing systems for delivering healthcare services in rural areas, using systems from other vendors such as Polycom and Tandberg.

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