Cisco Blogs

Cisco Blog > Video

The inflated price tag for broadband

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been tasked with creating a national broadband policy for the US that would bring high-bandwidth broadband access to all Americans. In their first report, the FCC placed the price tag at a staggering $350 billion. Granted, that is the cost of a super-fast 100mbps broadband network which more than accommodates current bandwidth-hogging applications and activities, but even a slower 3mbps network was priced at $20 billion.

Although many Americans who live in rural and under-served suburban areas would agree that this price is reasonable, it has the potential to cause fear and resentment in some tax payers; even though the private sector is expected to foot a large part of the bill.

At TANDBERG, we feel that broadband is something that no American should have to live without. We support the expansion of broadband infrastructure across the country, but we don’t feel that the price tag is as accurate as it can be.

Why? Much like the more expensive washing machine that cuts back on water usage, or the pricey double-paned windows that cut heating expenses, broadband infrastructure’s initial steep investment is going to lead to significant savings over time.

A great example of this savings is TANDBERG’s video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions. Broadband enables VTC and other advanced communication technologies, and VTC use can lead to significant cost savings.

By enabling and embracing broadband and VTC, the government will be making significant strides in the proliferation of teleworkers. Teleworkers save considerable tax payer dollars, and reduce operating expenses for the businesses and government agencies they work for.

Teleworkers using VTC have less need to commute since they’re able to communicate face-to-face from anywhere. This reduces the need for pricey transportation projects and infrastructure paid for with tax-payer dollars. Teleworkers also cost their employers less money since they use less resources, are more content, productive and have better work-life balances.

The use of VTC in education and healthcare environments can also save significant amounts of money. We’ve detailed these uses and how they can be more efficient and effective than traditional healthcare and educational practices in previous blog posts, and the potential for cost savings from these implementations is downright astounding.

When reading the FCC’s report on the estimated price tag of a national broadband policy, don’t let sticker shock jade you into thinking that the return on the investment can’t possibly justify the costs. The TRUE cost of broadband is much lower when the ultimate cost savings is taken into account.

When it comes to broadband in America, the need is great, and the return will more than justify the expense.

A new way to teach

I’ve written extensively about the uses of video teleconferencing (VTC) in education here at the TANDBERG Public Sector blog, and there’s a reason for that. In today’s educational environment, VTC is not only a useful tool, but also an answer to some difficult problems and questions plaguing school districts today.

With 48 out of 50 states currently looking down the barrel of significant budget shortfalls, state and local spending has been cut and expenditures are getting the axe. In many places, those cuts have been in education spending.

VTC has the ability to make education more efficient and cost effective. For many smaller districts, VTC can improve educational opportunities without increasing costs. If a teacher of a particular subject is unavailable locally or would cost too much to transport, they can instead appear via VTC to teach their classes. Also, virtual field trips via VTC enable all of the education without the need for a bus, bus driver and multiple admission costs.

The advantages of embracing VTC in traditional educational environments are numerous and obvious. However, the advantages of VTC are even more pronounced and impressive in some of the more untraditional and innovative installations.

Take this recent article in Technology & Learning Magazine for example. The Kentucky School for the Deaf has a student body of approximately 150 students, which is only 3% of the total population of high school and middle school students in the district. That’s dwarfed by the national average of 10%, which means that the students have less opportunity to interact with other deaf individuals.

In an effort to bring deaf students from different areas together, the school purchased TANDBERG systems with dual screens, one of the speaker and one for the interpreter.

The new system has been used to enable interaction between deaf students in different states. The system has also allowed the school to share resources such as AP teachers with other districts.

There’s more to VTC in educational environments than just cutting costs. VTC is enable a new way of teaching, and TANDBERG is proud to be at the forefront.

Like we've said before — successful meetings are done face-to-face

Successful Meetings Magazine recently ran a column discussing a study that was done by Harvard and featured in the Harvard Business Journal. The study of 2,300 business leaders in the United States, Europe and Asia found that face-to-face communication is essential to doing business. Of the respondents, 79% claimed that in-person meetings are the most effective way to sell business and 89% said in-person meetings were the most effective way to close deals.

The survey was sponsored by British Airways (which is much like a tobacco study being funded by Phillip Morris) and when presented by Harvard Business Review research editor Angela Herrin, was claimed to have proven that face-to-face wins in every category for interacting with clients, negotiating deals and understanding customers.

Ironically, despite these findings, 60% of the respondents claimed that they use remote meeting technologies very frequently.

This was quickly attributed to the economy and the fact that corporate travel budgets are down across the board. In fact, the article quotes Continental Airlines CEO Larry Kellner who, in defending his position that business travel will rebound, gives an anecdote about a business meeting where attendants shot down video teleconferencing (VTC) after an initial foray into VTC failed three years prior. This was based on so much business being done “in the bar, over dinner, at the golf course” because “that’s where ideas ferment.”

Here at TANDBERG, we feel differently. As a video teleconferencing company, the fact that we’d disagree with the thinking of the old “business travel” guard should surprise no one. Regardless, we see some serious problems with the arguments above.

First off, one of the major and most glaring mistakes being committed here is the presumption that video teleconferencing isn’t “face-to-face” communication. Recent technological advancements in video and telepresence solutions have made the VTC experience so lifelike and realistic that it’s as though you are standing in the same room with other meeting participants. Can you physically shake a person’s hand? No…but you may actually try.

Second, the current decline in business travel is a direct result of slashed travel budgets caused by the ongoing recession, but that doesn’t mean that things are going to go back to the norm when the economy rights itself. The fact is, advanced VTC technologies not only provide a realistic face-to-face experience, but they cost significantly less, are far more productive and spontaneous and cause significantly less damage to the environment.

Why? The initial investment in a VTC solution more than pays for itself when plane tickets, hotel rooms and meals no longer need to be paid for. Travel delays and trips to the airport not only take away valuable business hours, but create a huge delay between idea conception and idea presentation. VTC not only gives people that time back to spend on more productive pursuits, but allows ideas to be shared immediately. The grounding of planes and parking of cars also means a smaller carbon footprint for your company.

At TANDBERG we believe that collaboration is no longer black and white. The concept that a meeting is either in-person or over-the-phone is archaic. There is a new way of working. There is another option. VTC brings the best of both worlds to the table, and keeps you out of the sand traps…now that’s a winning solution.

Video Conferencing Changes Deaf Mother's Life

We mostly hear about how video conferencing and telepresence are changing the way people work, but here  is a great example of how the technology is literally changing people’s lives for the better.

Karen, author of the blog A Deaf Mom Shares Her World, recently posted about why she loves video conferencing. She says:

Personal Video Conferencing

Personal Video Conferencing

My life took a huge change when the Z-150 came into my life.   I was introduced to single-line VCO:  when I make a phone call, I use my voice to talk directly to the hearing person on the other end of the connection.  I don’t need a second phone to do this, I speak directly into the videophone and the person can hear me.  Perched on the screen in front of me is a Zvrs interpreter.

A few weeks ago, for the first time, I called my friend Cassie to talk about plans for our kids.  In the past, we always texted or used email but I decided to give her a call because we wanted to discuss something in detail.  It was the first time that she experienced a VCO call and she was simply blown away.

Read Karen’s full post here.

Who teaches the teachers?

The ongoing economic crisis has impacted everyone. Businesses are cutting costs left and right to help alleviate falling sales revenues in the private sector, and governments have in no way been immune. Currently 48 of the 50 states are mired in a steep budget shortfall and are trying everything possible to cut back.

With education funding being slashed across the country to help states balance their budgets, there are many things school districts are learning to live without. However, new technologies being applied in interesting and innovative ways are enabling some schools to provide a full education without breaking the bank. Most notable of these is video teleconferencing (VTC).

In fact, a recent article in Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook discusses some of the creative and innovative ways in which schools are utilizing VTC technologies as an inexpensive alternative to traditional teacher training.

Often times when budgets are slashed both in the private sector and in government, professional development budgets are one of the first casualties. However, the expense of travel to and enrolling in classes can be dramatically reduced through the integration of VTC. This ensures that teachers are up-to-date on the most recent teaching techniques and curriculum without having the travel to classes.

Also, new professional development opportunities that previously would have been considered disruptive to classrooms are now available only through VTC. For example, the Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook article references the Duval County School District in Florida which has been able to open up the classrooms of high-performing teachers for others to watch, and then subsequently ask questions, thanks in large part to VTC. The initiative is called Model Classrooms and it could not exist without technologies like those in TANDBERG video teleconferencing solutions.

The savings and benefits of VTC for professional development in the education industry are obvious. Without VTC, teachers would need to take days off, be replaced with substitutes and have to travel. With VTC, training can be accomplished in short sessions after school and the money saved on flights, hotel and subs go back in the bank.

Video teleconferencing ensures that teachers can continue to be taught to teach at a low cost. How much can your school system save with VTC?