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Press Release -- February 14th, 2011
Source: Cisco Systems
Tags: Equipment, Exchange, Submarine Cable, Telepresence, Video

Safaricom and Tata Communications Launch East Africa’s First Public Cisco TelePresence Suites at the Serena Hotels in Kenya and Uganda

Facilities Now Available in Nairobi and Kampala Offer a High-Definition Video Communication Tool for Businesses

NAIROBI, Kenya, and KAMPALA, Uganda, 14 February 2011: Safaricom, the leading provider of converged communication solutions in Kenya, and Tata Communications, a leading provider of the new world of communications, today unveiled the first public Cisco TelePresence Suites® in Kenya and Uganda. Two public Cisco TelePresence® rooms are hosted in Serena Hotels’ luxury city hotels in Nairobi and Kampala, both of which are members of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World organization, and a third will be at Safaricom’s Michael Joseph Center in Nairobi.

Connectivity and management of the TelePresence rooms will be led by Tata Communications, linking Kenya and Uganda to public and private rooms throughout Tata Communications’ network and partner networks. The network spans 32 locations across five continents. This network reach makes TelePresence a truly global collaboration tool.

Safaricom and Cisco collaborated with Copy Cat Ltd to deliver TelePresence solutions for East African customers. Copy Cat has been a member of the Cisco partner ecosystem since 1996 and is currently a Gold Certified Cisco Partner. Cisco also recognizes Copy Cat as an Advanced Technology Provider Partner for delivery of TelePresence solutions.

Highlights / Key Facts

  • This launch marks a new collaboration between Safaricom, Tata Communications and Serena Hotels.
  • The new Safaricom public Cisco TelePresence facilities will enable more than 200 Safaricom customers in Kenya and Uganda to minimize their travel time and expenses by delivering a live, immersive, face-to-face experience via the network. Cisco TelePresence technology allows users to enjoy real-time communication and to collaborate with colleagues, customers and partners even if they are in a different city. Participants sit down at the conference table in one of the Cisco TelePresence rooms and connect to the other participants with a simple phone call. Individuals automatically appear on the screen, irrespective of where in the world they may be sitting. The setup of the rooms allows participants to feel as if they are sitting across a table, in a life-size meeting room.
  • Customers will be able to purchase meeting slots in the Safaricom TelePresence rooms, in advance, on an hourly or daily basis through Tata Communications’ interactive 24-hour online booking system, or at the two Serena City hotels.
  • The rooms have been installed with a Cisco TelePresence System 3010, which allows up to six people to connect simultaneously across a maximum of 48 locations. It comprises three 65-inch plasma screens and a specially designed physical table that sits six participants on each side of the virtual table. It also features an additional LCD display for sharing rich-media content and other data using simple collaboration functionality as well as integrated cameras, lights and microphones so that speakers use less power.
  • The ‘real life’ meeting experience provided by Cisco TelePresence technology is delivered through ultra-high-resolution video that reveals subtle facial expressions conveying nonverbal reactions. Spatial audio allows the transmission of every nuance of the conversation and participants to interact as they would in person.
  • The Safaricom public Cisco TelePresence solution will help save time and costs as well as boost productivity by reducing or eliminating the need to travel, thereby facilitating a ‘greener’ environment by reducing the carbon footprint. It will also offer increased flexibility to Safaricom customers in East Africa, who will be able to conduct business meetings or sensitive negotiations such as job interviews; collaborate with remote customers, partners or suppliers; orchestrate training for employees or manage remote employees; conduct focus groups and market research; and facilitate ‘face-to-face’ collaboration between industry or academic colleagues on research projects between locations around the world.
  • The public Cisco TelePresence Suites in Nairobi and Kampala will be connected to a number of other rooms around the globe through Tata Communications’ Global Meeting Exchange. The Exchange enables business-to-business meetings between any public rooms or customer-owned private rooms on Tata Communications’ services, as well as rooms on the networks of Tata Communications’ Inter-Exchange partners, BT and Telefonica, and the National Lambda Rail network, which links leading U.S. universities. This network reach makes the Cisco TelePresence solution a truly global collaboration tool, giving East Africa a whole new way to engage in the world economy.

Executive Quotes:

    • Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom

“In today’s climate, our customers across East Africa are looking at better ways to conduct business, keep a firm control on costs, and get more productivity. The fast pace of development in the business environment and the rapid growth of companies and associations today have created a necessity to develop new applications that can serve the communication needs of this fast-paced business growth. Safaricom is the only company in East Africa that currently has the fiber infrastructure to offer Cisco TelePresence services cost-effectively. Our new TelePresence solution provides a compelling business case to save cost and time, as well as being environmentally friendly, at one with our credentials as a green company.”

    • Peter Quinlan, vice president, TelePresence Services, Tata Communications

“Thousands of businesses across the globe are already enjoying the benefits of being able to rent our TelePresence facilities by the hour. This model allows for companies with existing rooms to extend their reach even further. For those without their own corporate rooms, it means they can now connect to almost any location around the globe, as and when they need to, at a competitive hourly rate. Today’s announcement represents a key milestone for Tata Communications in East Africa as well as the launch of a new partnership with Safaricom, Tata Communications and Serena Hotels & Resorts. “

    • Kilian Lugwe, general manager, Serena Hotel, Nairobi

“We are proud to pioneer this unique technology in East Africa. The Serena Hotel Group is synonymous with innovation in the East African hotel industry, and it is crucial that we continue to evolve our meeting offerings to address the needs of businesses and consumers in East Africa. Our collaboration with Safaricom will enable us to do just that.”

    • Pim Versteeg, vice president, Cisco, Africa Levant Region

“Our goal is to empower customers through technology, and innovations like Cisco TelePresence technology will help organizations in East Africa to address the abundant market opportunities in Africa and also challenge other global players. Our collaboration with Safaricom and Tata Communications to launch our TelePresence solution in Kenya and Uganda marks another transformational landmark project for Cisco in East Africa. This is one of the many ways Cisco contributes to the ‘going green’ revolution, a global effort to save our environment for future generations. We look forward to working with Safaricom and Tata Communications to deploy Cisco TelePresence rooms in many more East African locations.”

Links / URLs:

About Safaricom

Formed at the turn of the last decade following the liberalization of Kenya’s telecoms sector as a joint venture between global leader Vodafone of the UK and the government of Kenya, Safaricom, which celebrated its 10th Anniversary last year, has firmly established its credentials as a regional leader, spawning a virtual telecoms revolution in Kenya. Growing from its cradle in mobile voice services, Safaricom has grown into a total telecoms company. The firm, which has a subscriber base of over 17 million, offers all telecoms services under one roof: mobile and fixed voice and data services on a variety of platforms: Kenya’s widest and only 3G network; a growing fiber optic cable footprint and its most expansive WIMAX presence. Safaricom also pioneered commercial mobile money transfer globally through M-PESA, the most successful such service anywhere in the world. For more details please go to: http://www.safaricom.co.ke/

About Tata Communications

Tata Communications is a leading global provider of a new world of communications. With a leadership position in emerging markets, Tata Communications leverages its advanced solutions capabilities and domain expertise across its global and pan-India network to deliver managed solutions to multi-national enterprises, service providers and Indian consumers. The Tata Global Network includes one of the most advanced and largest submarine cable networks, a Tier-1 IP network, with connectivity to more than 200 countries across 400 PoPs, and nearly 1 million square feet of data center and collocation space worldwide.  Tata Communications’ depth and breadth of reach in emerging markets includes leadership in Indian enterprise data services, leadership in global international voice, and strategic investments in operators in South Africa (Neotel), Sri Lanka (Tata Communications Lanka Limited), and Nepal (United Telecom Limited).  Tata Communications Limited is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange of India and its ADRs are listed on the New York Stock Exchange. (NYSE:TCL, news, filings) www.tatacommunications.com

About Serena Hotels

The Serena selection of luxury resorts, safari lodges and hotels spans some of the most evocative, exotic and enchanting destinations in the world. The Serena Group comprises a collection of 32 luxury resorts, safari lodges and hotels, which are located in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Mozambique) and Southern Asia (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan).The Serena service profile guarantees unprecedented luxury, extensive amenities and unrivalled warmth of personal attention. For more details visit: http://www.serenahotels.com/

About Cisco

Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO, news, filings) is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Information about Cisco can be found at http://www.cisco.com. For ongoing news, please go to http://newsroom.cisco.com. Cisco equipment in emerging markets is supplied by Cisco Systems International BV, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cisco Systems, Inc.

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