Tata Communications plans to launch 20 new telepresence centres worldwide, reports Business Standard. This would bring the total number of telepresence centres operated by the company to 32, up from the existing 12. With costs of setting up a centre ranging between $200,000 to $500,000, Tata Communications’ plans are expected to require an investment of up to $10 million. But that may well be money well spent in an industry that has shown consistent double digit growth for the last few years and is projected generate $600 million in annual equipment revenue worldwide which could shoot up to $1.5 billion annually with services included, as per a report (pdf, 1MB) published by Gartner in 2008. But the Gartner report identified challenges for the telepresence business as well. For immersive telepresence, which the Tata-Cisco combination provides:

— high bandwidth requirements: immersive telepresence requires realtime MPLS bandwidths of 6mbps to 24 mbps.
— high investment costs: $80,000 to $400,000 cost per end point deployment, and $10,000-$25,000 per month per managed service endpoint

It, of course, helps that Tata Communications has its own under-sea cables. The company currently has telepresence centres at New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad in India as well as in Boston, Chicago, Santa Clara, Jo’burg, London, Manila and Sydney. The company has tie-ups with Cisco, Dimension Data plc, Philippines Long Distance Company (PLDT), Whygo, Neotel, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Tata Communications has also announced the expansion of its network into Russia, via a local Moscow point of presence, targeting Russia and the CIS. Over 100 service providers in Russia and CIS will be served out of the Moscow Office. The company has also partnered with Kazakh Telecom, allowing a connection between Moscow, Astana and Aimaty to its Telepresence network.