Cisco offers free license to telepresence protocol

Cisco is betting on high-definition telepresence to be as common as Skype and iChat videoconferencing by giving away its Telepresence Interoperability Protocol (TIP) license to third parties. The company hopes to plant the seeds to see a flourishing telepresence product market which operates on its protocol.

The move is not surprising as the trend has been for companies to “open up” or to adopt open standards. For instance, in March 2009 Skype released its wideband audio codec SILK for free to third party developers.

Once a company has made such commitments to offer such free licenses, the biggest hurdle has always been getting others to adopt the technology. Less than a handful of companies have signed up as TIP licensees so far. It remains to be seen how hard Cisco will push or incentivize others to jump on the TIP bandwagon.

In comparison, Skype has gained traction in the open source telephony community. Asterisk now supports Skype calls, albeit without the SILK codec (yet). But more importantly, Skype decided to submit SILK to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the first step to applying the codec to become an Internet standard.

Right now Cisco is going about TIP without the blessing of any standards organization. The FAQ is vague on how it intends to tackle this potential problem. Could this deter users in fear of vendor lock-in in the future?

Cisco is making a positive move with this offering, and it could be a win-win situation for everyone. However, it seems there are still some details to be ironed out, but some customers may overlook that simply because Cisco is the dominant market player.


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