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Cisco to introduce HD videoconferencing to Verizon FiOS customers

Sometime in early 2011 Cisco Systems will deliver the first residential videoconferencing system that can deliver up to 1080p high-definition pictures to Verizon FiOS customers.

If widely adopted, Cisco’s “Umi” technology would stress the upstream capacity of many cable and DSL broadband networks. The product, to ship in mid-November of this year, will be priced at $599, plus a monthly fee of $24.99 for unlimited calls and up to 100 minutes of video-message storage.

The system requires a broadband connection with a minimum upload speed of 1.5Mb/s for video calls in SD and 3.5Mb/s upstream for 1080p HD connections. For cable, upload speeds are typically very slow, with upstream DOCSIS connectivity typically limited to the 5MHz-42MHz range.

Verizon Communications, recognizing an opportunity to exploit the upstream capacity of its FiOS fiber-to-the-home network, is working with Cisco to provide an Umi option to FiOS Internet customers in early 2011. The two companies said they have conducted trials of the videoconferencing system over the FiOS network.

The Umi is a consumer version of Cisco’s TelePresence Meeting product line for businesses. It connects to an existing HD television and a broadband Internet connection, and can connect to users who don’t have an Umi through Google video chat, running on a PC with a webcam.

Cisco claims Umi delivers an “immersive” video experience that automatically adjusts to lighting conditions and various room sizes to provide high-quality video and audio performance.

The Cisco Umi is scheduled to be available for consumers to purchase on Nov. 14 in Best Buy stores and directly from Cisco.