With planes grounded, businesses turn to conferencing

Metaratings
20 Apr 2010
00:00
Article

As volcanic ash keeps European planes on the ground, demand for conferencing services has skyrocketed.

BT, Cisco and Skype have all reported soaring sales as business travellers find themselves unable to make meetings in Europe.

BT Conferencing CEO Aaron McCormack said demand was up 35%, although 80% of this was for plain audio-conferencing. Sexy high-def videoconferencing accounted for just 20% of the higher sales, he told the NY Times.

Frederik Halvorsen, the head of Cisco’s telepresence group – which includes its newly-acquired Norwegian vidcon firm Tandberg, said he’d seen “a huge spike in usage.” Not even a demo room is available in any Cisco facility, he said.

Despite this, Asia hasn’t seen any fresh demand for conferencing services. BT Asia-Pacific and Cable & Wireless Worldwide both said it was too early to tell.

However, Tony Melloy of BT Asia-Pacific said he expected a spike in demand for telepresence in the coming months. Just as the financial crisis 18 months ago prompted fresh sales, businesses would see the cost advantages in adopting the service as a result of the airline crisis, he predicted.

With the same idea in mind, Tandberg is offering a free videoconferencing service for businesspeople stranded by the lack of flights.

Because of the upsurge in demand, research firm Wainhouse Research has revised its growth forecast for conferencing equipment sales this year from 10% to 15%.

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