video conferencing

RailTel Corporation of India and Cisco have tied-up to launch a video conferencing platform for government departments, reports The Economic Times. This service has been planned keeping in mind the several travel restrictions issued by the Indian government to various state and central government departments.

As per the deal, Cisco will be providing the telepresence video equipment that RailTel will pay for and rent to government and private businesses, while RailTel’s broadband network will be used for the service. A network operations centre will also be set up at RailTel’s data centres in Hyderabad and Delhi, which will be managed by Cisco.

Cisco’s India & SAARC country head Sandeep Mehra told ET that through the partnership they will try to sell the video conferencing service to companies in sectors such as education and healthcare in small cities where RailTel has a strong presence, besides public sector companies. Here are some of the other services that Cisco offers to public sector companies.

The report mentions that Indian Railways, Patna High Court and Central Warehousing Corporation have already signed up to use the service on a pay-per-use basis.

Competition: Major telecom operators like Airtel, Reliance Communications and BSNL also offer video conferencing services. Then there are companies like Turtle Yogi Technologies that also offer video calling services. Turtle Yogi has a product called 1Click Video,  which allows users to participate in video calls within the browser: users can invite participants through email or chat, and the call takes place on the browser. The company had raised between $250,000 (Rs 1.6 crore) and $350,000 (Rs 2.2 crore) in seed funding from a consortium of investors led by Blume Ventures, in January last year.

Will RailTel finally deliver?

The success or failure of RailTel & Cisco’s platform will depend on RailTel’s broadband network. Also worth noting is that over the years RailTel has announced several ambitious plans, but very few (if any) have been successfully implemented. Back n 2006, the then RailTel AGM (Business Development & Public Relations) Shailesh Tiwari had said that it plans to create Wi-Fi hotspots in 500 stations and also plans to extend the service to neighbouring areas, in an interview. Over 8 years have passed since then, but no tangible progress has been made. The Indian Railways proposed introduction of Wi-Fi facility at A1 and A category stations and in 50 rakes of important trains, like Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duranto in collaboration with RailTel, has also made very little progress.

Last month, RailTel had tied-up with Eros International’s online streaming service ErosNow to offer video streaming service at railway stations. The service has already been launched at New Delhi and Bangalore railway stations, where RailTel had introduced free Wi-Fi service last year. Availability at other stations will depend on how fast RailTel can introduce Wi-Fi hotspot facilities in those stations.

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