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Cisco mobilizes US Olympics audience

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Cisco is teaming up with US broadcaster NBC to make mobile phone network providers like AT&T squat and receive an HD Olympics video enema.

The network equipment giant said Wednesday it has expanded its partnership with NBC as the broadcaster's official network infrastructure provider for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games this February to allow US viewers access play-on-demand video coverage catered to mobile devices.

NBC has exclusive rights to cover Olympics ballyhoo in the US up until London hosts the Summer games in 2012. The peacock network has provided broadband Olympics coverage in past events using a specially designed Cisco network — but this time round will include HD content that can be beamed to handhelds.

"We've done part of this at the Beijing Olympics," Suraj Shetty, veep of Service Provider Marketing at Cisco told El Reg. "Now we're taking it to a whole different level by bringing this sort of experience to all the screens."

NBC also plans to provide athletes with Cisco's Flip video cameras to capture their own "gold, silver, and bronze metal moments" for NBCOlypics.com. To provide for all the video bandwidth streaming out of the games, Cisco will help roll out a media data center and test its Unified Computing system at the International Broadcast Center in Vancouver.

When asked if there's any concern that hundreds of thousands of Americans simultaneously receiving HD video over mobile devices would ravage (already strained) mobile service provider networks over the 17-day event, Shetty said compression should ease much of the bandwidth requirements. He added that whether more viewers will actually tune into the games with a mobile option as opposed to the same sized Olympics audience choosing new was to digest the games is something Cisco will talk about after the games have ended. ®

Clarification

Athletes will only use the Flip cameras in sanctioned areas at the Olympics. See our story here for details.

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