by By Tom Isler | January 01, 2009

telepresenceCan't justify investing $50,000 or $100,000 per unit to equip corporate offices with high-end telepresence systems, the latest in high-definition videoconferencing technology? Soon, public suites with the technology will be popping up at hotels and conference centers around the world.

Cisco and Tata Communications, the Mumbai, India-based parent company of Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, recently announced plans to open 100 new public rooms with Cisco TelePresence technology by the end of the year (adding to Cisco's existing telepresence network of nearly 1,000). In the United States, systems currently are available at Taj hotels in Boston and New York City. Public Cisco TelePresence suites run $299 to $899 per hour, depending on the room. The largest can accommodate up to  18 people.

Regus, which operates roughly 1,000 business centers around the world, including 370 with videoconferencing technology in the United States, will add high-end systems as well. Demand for telepresence has been picking up in the last six or eight months, notes Carla Clements, director of videoconferencing and meeting rooms for Regus. Although the company offers only one public suite with a Polycom telepresence system, in Cupertino, Calif., Clements says more systems will be added for public use over the next 12 to 18 months.

Tandberg, a videoconferencing company whose U.S. operations are based in New York, also expects to expand its telepresence network in hotels, particularly in Las Vegas, where interest is high.