First Virtual Brings Real Time Rich Media Conferencing to 2,600 London Schools
London, UK and Redwood City, California – March 17, 2004 – First Virtual Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: FVCX), a premier provider of infrastructure and solutions for real time rich media communications, today announced that its Click to Meet™ solution is currently being piloted in select schools in the London area. Ten regional broadband consortia (RBCs) have been established to support the UK Government’s ambitious plans to have broadband Internet access installed in every school in the UK within two years. Due to highly satisfying initial results, there are plans to deploy Click to Meet to all 2,600 London schools by 2006.
The London Grid for Learning (LGfL) is a not-for-profit trust established across all 33 London Local Education Authorities (LEAs) to provide schools with broadband services. LGfL provides the broadband connectivity, managed services and on-line content to serve the education community throughout the London region.
“LGfL wanted to ensure that the new broadband resource is used as extensively as possible, and web based rich media conferencing was identified as the most valuable way of expanding on existing resources and creating new opportunities for learning,” commented Ian Lehmann, operations manager at LGfL. “First Virtual’s Click to Meet was chosen as its ease of use made it stand out. We want teachers and students to feel confident with the communications tool and to integrate it as a natural addition into their everyday routine, much like using a chalkboard or whiteboard. We also need an easy set-up without the need for a technician to be on-site whenever the conferencing tools are used. The ability to integrate the solution with any existing conferencing system as well as with our existing portal was another priority for us, and Click to Meet is more than able to provide us with everything we need.”
The pilot has been so successful that it has been extended, and Click to Meet has been approved for external calls. This means that any school using the solution is able to invite teachers, governors or pupils from any Internet-connected school or museum across the world to join them in a free conference. This innovation has opened up a vast array of educational opportunities including linking language classes directly to foreign schools, history classes to heritage museums, science classes to natural history museums and many other exciting partnership possibilities.”
Careful planning had to be put in place regarding the way that web and video conferencing are used in the education sector. Bruce Withington, sales manager for First Virtual’s UK office explained, “Staff and students across the education sector will use Click to Meet in a very different way than the corporate sector currently uses it, as they are dealing with much larger numbers of users. For example, schools may often need to bring together between 80 and 100 people in four to five different locations, which is completely different than a 10-person, online corporate meeting. Our quality was also a critical factor as students and educators refuse to accept low-quality solutions.”
The Click to Meet communications solution provides a number of services, which are available for the schools in the LGfL region to trial. By using the installed-on-demand Conference Client, virtually any PC user with an IP connection is able to attend on-line web conferences through the LGfL. Online conferences provide users with the ability to make high quality and secure web conferencing calls free of charge across the LGfL network between any number of conferencing units. The solution allows better access and sharing of educational resources and offers realistic, cost-effective distance learning tools.
Click to Meet is First Virtual’s premier real time rich media communications solution enabling audio, video and data communications within a single, browser-based user interface and provides affordable communication options for widespread deployment. As a software solution, Click to Meet offers more flexible deployment options, easier upgrades and lower cost processing power than hardware-based solutions. Combining high quality multipoint audio and video with web collaboration tools such as document sharing, presentation, file transfer and whiteboard, Click to Meet provides the expressive and interactive communications that are critical in learning environments.
About London Grid for Learning (LGfL)
The London Grid for Learning (LGfL) is a collaborative initiative by the 33 London Local authorities, launched in June 2000, initially to provide broadband connectivity, managed services and on-line content, to serve the education community throughout the London Region. LGfL was established to meet the challenge to provide, by 2006, true broadband connectivity (minimum 2mbps, symmetrical) to London’s 2600 maintained schools, populated with 65,000 teachers and one million pupils set in an area of 620 square miles. LGfL is on track to meet this challenge, on time and well within funding limits, with a year to spare. Currently over 72% of London’s schools are connected to the LGfL network at bandwidths between 2Mbps and 100Mbps. Work started with the largest schools and hence an estimated three-quarters of London’s one million pupils are already served by the LGfL. For more information about using video and web conferencing in schools, visit the LGfL web site at www.lgfl.net.
About First Virtual Communications
First Virtual Communications is a premier provider of infrastructure and solutions for real time rich media communications. The Company’s award-winning Click to Meet™ product line is enterprise-class software that enables corporate, education, healthcare and government customers worldwide to present, share, sell, train and collaborate. Click to Meet integrates the user’s choice of data, audio and multipoint interactive video into existing work environments and into everyday communication tools such as instant messaging, web browsing and e-mail. Click to Meet software solutions are widely deployed in over 1,500 customer locations and excel in challenging environments such as military intelligence, emergency response, disaster recovery, corporate training and geographically dispersed tele-working locations, among others. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, First Virtual Communications has operations in France, United Kingdom, Japan and China. More information about First Virtual Communications can be found at www.fvc.com or by calling 1-800-728-6337 or +1-650-801-6500 outside North America.
Except for the historical information contained herein, this news release contains forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements containing the words, “believes,” “anticipates,” “expects” and words of similar import. Such forward-looking statements have known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of First Virtual Communications, or industry results, to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such factors include, among others: the success of and timely release of the Company’s Click to Meet™ products, the increase in sales of the Company’s Click to Meet™ and Conference Server products, the Company’s variability of operating results, market acceptance of web conferencing technology, potential inability to maintain business relationships with integrators, distributors and suppliers, rapid technological changes, competition and consolidation in the web conferencing industry, the importance of attracting and retaining personnel, and other risk factors referenced in First Virtual Communications’ public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the Company’s report on Form 10-Q for the three month period ended September 30, 2003.
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