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ShowNotes: The Engineering Behind TelePresence

February 18, 2010 - 5 Comments

Welcome to the Show Notes for TechWiseTV61 – Exploring the Engineering Behind TelePresence.  If you missed the show, don’t hesitate to get the replay right away!



“We looked at a simple scenario where two sites are connected via telepresence systems that have an estimated $115-per-hour cost of operation. We applied this scenario to a situation where telepresence didn’t replace on-site work, but instead gave the organization the ability to send fewer staff members (one instead of three) to accomplish the same amount of work in the same amount of time (four days). In this case, the savings in transportation and hotel costs more than offset the cost of using the telepresence systems, providing an estimated $1,345 in savings.”

Next-Generation Telepresence Is Here And It Works (Information Week)


Segment 1: The Making of TelePresence

TelePresence isn’t just for the executives anymore. Recently our CEO John Chambers demonstrated the concept of Home Telepresence – bringing up questions in my mind on what has changed to make this all possible?

Robb and I discuss the three service levels for maximizing the reach and flexibility of Cisco TelePresence.

Tina Shakour and Robb Boyd Segment 1


The Immersive Experience is the executive-class experience. Having sat through plenty of these meetings, I can tell you there does come a point where you forget the technology and just have a meeting.

An Optimized Experience allows you to provide a high quality experience while leveraging existing conference rooms. Typically, this will be the smaller TelePresence units such as the 1100 and 1300.

The big news is the Extended Reach experience. This allows small offices and home offices with dedicated T1 bandwidth levels to leverage TelePresence.


Introducing Extended Reach


See the full video that Michael and Team created about the new TelePresence 1100 and 1300 systems:

Segment 2: Designing Your Network for TelePresence

Beyond the simplicity and ease of use is a reality that the network can make or break a successful experience.  Sporting my new official TechWiseTV bowling shirt, I joined Jimmy Ray in the lab as we look at some of the network requirements and we practice some math and physics along the way!


In the Immersive experience with three cameras and three microphones, average bandwidth is 11Mbps but can reach as much as 15Mbps.



It is important to remember the “80/20” rule for QoS: Only about 20% of where your traffic travels is under your control. It is important to keep this in mind as you plan out your network.For more details and fun, check out the network design guide for TelePresence and Jimmy Ray’s blog on QoS.

(NOTE from Robb: You may have missed this in segment 2 if you were not watching closely…but thanks to the hard work of our senior editor, Doug Bassett, we witness the ceremonial ‘exchange of chicken’ for Jimmy Ray agreeing to work on a voice project with Tina.)

Tina bribes Jimmy Ray


Segment 3: TelePresence Interoperability Protocol

The future of simple interoperability can be found within the innovation of open protocols like TIP that allow any vendor to inter-operate.  Cisco TelePresence Engineer Michael Thomma stops by the lab to help dissect the protocol. He and Jimmy Ray dive into how TIP, based on open standards, allows vendors to natively interoperate with Cisco TelePresence and enable enhanced features such as:

  • H.264 720p and 1080p interoperability – TIP is geared for the more high-end, HD sessions
  • Triple-screen interoperability
  • AAC-LD and G.722 audio
  • Point-to-point and multipoint support (in both transcoded and switched environments)
  • Cisco TelePresence Extended Reach


For more on TIP and TIP licensing, check out this Q&A.


Understanding the TIP Protocol


Michael Thomma and Jimmy Ray


For more information on TelePresence Interoperability without TIP, watch the full video highlighted in the show starring Michael Thomma and team:


Segment 4: Multi-point TelePresence Architecture

The myths surrounding Cisco TelePresence Mulit-point Switch are debunked! Shobana Shankar and Jimmy Ray dig into the “meat and taters” of the CTMS.


Shobana Shankar


The CTMS, a hardware-based appliance is built for high-speed switching. This is not your typical MCU, it is truly built video, adding less than 10ms of latency for the switching function.

Shobana walks Jimmy Ray the configuration of the switch and some of the feature settings. The GUI, built off the Call Manager / Communications Manager, provides familiar access to service and security settings and system status.

Segment 5: The Fundamentals of Deployment

Tim Szigeti, co-author of Cisco TelePresence Fundamentals, joined us live from Canada via TelePresence. He shareed his Top 5 Deployment Recommendations for a successful rollout – and yes, one of these did include a conversation about paint – but for a very good reason.  Wink



  • For the Immersive experience, follow the room design recommendations:

This is not just about aesthetics – deviations will directly impact network behavior and change traffic characteristics and network requirements.

  • Design your network to be highly available:

TelePresence streams utilize high compression ratios (over 99.9%) making it over 100 times more sensitive to packet loss as compared to VoIP. However, TelePresence traffic is also far more bursty and variable

  •  Follow the QoS design recommendations for TelePresence:

Classify TelePresence traffic separately from other types of video conferencing. It should be marked as CS4.  Use hardware priority queuing for TelePresence in the campus and LLQ in the WAN. When LLQ is cost-prohibitive, use CBWFQ.

  • Be aware of hardware-specific limitations:

If using stackable switches, enable ingress queuing and when using oversubscribed linecards, limit these to the access-layer of the campus.

  •  Harden TelePresence deployments by following security recommendations:

Use SSH and other secure protocols for management, follow correct firewall configurations and use ingress policers to prevent trust abuse.


To stay engaged with what is new and coming in Cisco TelePresence, join the conversation on the Collaboration Community.

To hear Tim Szigeti dig deeper into his deployment recommendations, join us for a live workshop with Q&A on Wednesday, March 3rd. ()

Finally, as Robb says at the close of just about every show: we can’t do this without your feedback. What do you want to hear about in Unified Communications and Collaboration? Post a note here, write on our Facebook wall, or tweet me @tinashakour.


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  1. A collossal post, it’s always very interesting following the world of Cisco!

  2. Currently encryption is not supported for Telepresence interop calls.As far as I know CUVC-M cannot be used to monitor the TelePresence endpoints.Yes audio-only calls can join into a TelePresence call via the CUVC MCU. Although an MCU is not neccesary to add audio only calls. In a TelePresence multipoint call, each endpoint is able to add a single audio endpoint into the meeting.Cascading multiple CTMS’s is on the roadmap and should be available later this year.

  3. Interoperability:How does CTS provide support for end to end encyrption between H.323 endpoints connected via CUVC/MCU.Can Telepresence endpoint be monitored from CUVC-M NMS systems. Is it possible to monitor sessions statistics by using the CUVC-M in a CUVC environment.Can a voice/audio endpoint join a Telepresence session via an MCU?Can the CTS support cascaded or multiparty conferences?

  4. Melvin,Did you raise this issue during the show? This sounds like a windows or real media issue. The show is quality checked multiple times and it was right on the mark for the two computers I monitored with during the show. The replay will be available within 24 hours – I encourage you to try again, if even for a moment to see if we can resolve the issue. Thank you for watching!

  5. It would have really been great if the voice and video were in sync. We experienced about 3 sec delay – voice was trailing video.I’m really glad I didn”t have my CCO set in as an attempt to sell this technology based on this presentation – I would have been run off the campus.