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Cisco bids to control IPTV

Grabs for underlying architecture

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Cisco claims that the load balancing and resource pooling means that this systems has virtually nonstop service availability and if a CDE fails or is taken offline for maintenance, the platform continues to deliver uninterrupted video services to subscribers, without the need for idle standby units.

Another idea has been taken here from the original Fastweb IPTV system, which allowed for a central cache of content and then edge caching for the most popular content, again designed by Bitband.

Cisco’s system is perhaps even more efficient, eliminating the need to pre-position content at every streaming node. Instead its intelligent edge caching reduces bandwidth requirements on the network backbone by 95 per cent, but ensures that delivery of any VoD content begins within 300 milliseconds regardless of where the content is stored within the network.

A single Cisco CDE can work up to 12 Gbps of streaming bandwidth and can support a maximum ingest rate of more than 750 Mbps, and store a total of 12 TB of content.

Our take on all of this is that Cisco is putting the core IPTV intelligence into the network, at a level so deep that it will be difficult to beat. This can be harnessed by virtually any software above, mostly needing some re-coding at the set top, which of course Cisco can always supply through Kiss and Scientific Atlanta. In this way Cisco attacks Alcatel in IPTV, but not Microsoft nor any other vendor offering middleware only.

So while Cisco would be happy to support Alcatel’s OMP or Lucent’s Imagenio with these capabilities, we know that Alcatel would then lose key elements of the network equipment contract. Similarly Siemens would do the same when it implements Surpass and Myrio. We understand that Cisco has built implementation teams for Minerva IPTV software and it is likely to do this for other middleware systems.

What each of these can now do is sign up with Cisco, and go to their respective operators and say “If you want all the capabilities promised by Microsoft, we can now give you that with our software and our new partner Cisco,” which has a very credible ring to it, and which also drags Cisco into every IPTV RFQ out there.

Copyright © 2006, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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