Australian internet service provider Internode has exceeded initial carbon reduction estimates through its telepresence system.
The systems had been installed at the provider’s corporate headquarters in Adelaide as well as satellite offices in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne and were used routinely for meetings between executives.
Company chief executive Patrick Tapper had estimated at the installation of the $500,000 systems two years ago that the system could eliminate “more than 150 tonnes of carbon emissions… and significantly cut our travel costs”.
However, an internally calculated conservative analysis of Internode’s telepresence use during July 2011 showed that the company appeared to have greatly exceeded its mid-2009 estimate.
The company indicated it saved more than $25,000 per month in airfares, taxis and lost productivity hours.
iTnews visited Internode’s Sydney office for an exclusive test of the telepresence system, through a visual meeting with staff in Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane.
The hour-long telepresence conversation with Internode executives Matthew Moyle-Croft and Steve Harpas felt more like a real business meeting - in-person with people on the other side of the boardroom table - than a video conference.
Visual communications research showed that people “only remember 10 percent of what they hear, 30 percent of what they read but about 80 percent of what they see and do”.
By making a video meeting seem more real, telepresence has the potential to greatly improve remote communication as well as slashing an organisation’s carbon footprint by reducing the need for corporate travel.
Cisco recently cut the cost of its telepresence systems - which range in price from $4000 to over $125,000 - and increased interoperability with other vendor equipment in response to competition from rivals Vidyo and Polycom.
The room-based systems are mainly purchased by government departments and large corporations due to the large capital investment required.
Small businesses access to the systems has also become available at for-rent telepresence suites in locations such as Sheraton on The Park in Sydney.
Internode did not measure the bandwidth use of its internal telepresence suites.
However, business use of telepresence systems in Australia could become far more prevalent once broadband plans with high download and upload speeds become widely available through the National Broadband Network, according to Internode’s Harpas.
“The real barrier to using telepresence in a home or small office setting is the need for minimum 8 to 10 megabits of two-way, low-latency network connectivity per screen,” Harpas told iTnews. “That’s not possible with an ADSL2+ connection but it will be routine for NBN users.”