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Press Release -- January 31st, 2011
Source: Tata Communications
Tags: Equipment, Exchange, Submarine Cable, Telepresence, Video

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

Public TelePresence Facilities Now Available in Nairobi and Kampala, Offering a High-Definition Video Communication Tool for Businesses

NAIROBI, Kenya, and KAMPALA, Uganda, 31 January 2011: Safaricom, the leading provider of converged communication solutions in Kenya and Tata Communications, a leading provider of the new world of communications, today will unveil the first public Cisco TelePresence® suites in Kenya and Uganda. Two public 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.

The new Safaricom public TelePresence facilities will enable over 200 Safaricom customers in Kenya and Uganda to minimize their travel time and expenses by delivering a live, immersive, face-to-face experience enabled via the network. TelePresence allows users to enjoy real-time communication and to collaborate with colleagues, customers and partners, even if they are in a different city. A TelePresence meeting is as simple as making a phone call. Participants sit down at the conference table in one of the TelePresence rooms and connect to the other participants with a simple answer of a phone call. Individuals automatically appear on the screen, irrespective of where in the world they may be sitting. The set up of the rooms allows for participants to feel as if they are sitting across a table, in a life size, meeting room.

Highlights / Key Facts:

  • This launch marks a new collaboration between Safaricom, Tata Communications and Serena Hotels.
  • 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, 24x7 online booking system, or at the two Serena City hotels.
  • The rooms are 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 auto-collaborate functionality as well as integrated cameras, lights and microphones so that speakers use less power.
  • The 'real life' meeting experience provided by Cisco TelePresence 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 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 like 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 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 TelePresence a truly global collaboration tool, giving East Africa a whole new way to engage in the world economy.
  • Copy Cat Ltd has partnered with Safaricom and Cisco in to deliver TelePresence solutions for East African customers. Copy Cat has been a Cisco Partner since 1996 and is currently Gold certified. Cisco also recognizes Copy Cat as an Advanced Technology Partner for delivery of TelePresence solutions.

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 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 innovative technology solutions, like TelePresence, 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 TelePresence in many more East African locations.”

Links / URLs:

About Safaricom: 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) 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), the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, this year celebrates 25 years of technology innovation, operational excellence and corporate social responsibility. 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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