Cisco Advances IP TV Vision
Cisco Systems at ITU Telecom World in Hong Kong on Dec. 4 will continue its push into the uncharted IP TV waters with a series of new products and enhancements to the Cisco 7600 router series that will enable service providers to deliver the "Video 2.0" experience.
In reaction to the rise of VOD (video on demand), Web sites such as YouTube and the ability to watch live TV over a broadband Internet link, Cisco is working to help carriers create infrastructures capable of effectively delivering a range of entertainment-grade video services.
Among the new offerings that Cisco will launch in Hong Kong is a new content delivery system that can "take any content from the Internet, broadcast TV, video on demand, games or music, and take it to any device at any location," said Suraj Shetty, director of marketing at Cisco, in San Jose, Calif.
The system, aimed at both cable and DSL operators, can help speed the distribution of interactive media, entertainment and advertising services to subscriber TVs, PCs, mobile devices and portable media players.
It is made up of a series of appliances, dubbed Content Delivery Engines, that each implement separate functions, including content storage, ingestion, distribution, personalization and streaming. CDEs can be combined into groups that deliver different Content Delivery Applications.
CDAs in different groupings allow carriers to deploy subscriber services such as VOD, ad insertion into broadcast video, local programming and more.
"The system can take any type of content from Internet or broadcast TV, ingest it into a vault array, do targeted advertising based on individual preference and then provide it out of stream arrays to the screen, whether its a TV, laptop or mobile screen. All of that is done in less than 300 milliseconds, so were providing a live experience and customizing it based on individual preferences," Shetty said.
The system, which competes with existing centralized server-based offerings, scales better because the ingestion, storage and streaming functions can scale independently, Shetty added.
Cisco will also launch a new Video Quality Experience appliance aimed at preserving a quality video experience by addressing a pair of problems with existing wire-line infrastructure. The VQE allows for more rapid channel changing and performs video error repair on transmissions affected by physical problems with copper cabling.
It works in conjunction with Ciscos Scientific Atlanta set-top box, which detects video packet transmission errors and sends a retransmission request back to the VQE for lost packets while holding the video sequence in queue. The VQE resends the video stream, and the set-top box puts the packets in the right order and sends it to the TV screen "within 100 milliseconds so the user never sees the problem," Shetty said.
Errors are also reported back to the carrier so that recurring problems can be addressed.
The VQE also addresses slow channel-change response caused by the channel being only transmitted across a DSL line.
The VQE maintains a cache of all the video streams a carrier offers. When a viewer changes a channel to CBS, for example, the VQE takes the video stream in its buffer for CBS and sends it to the set-top box in less than 100 ms. "It Unicasts the cached content thats kept for every channel and then waits for the multicast stream coming down. When its there it switches to the multicast stream," explained Shetty.
Cisco intends to implement the VQE technology in its 7600 Router Series in a later release, Shetty said. The company will also introduce other enhancements to the 7600 Router Series aimed at enabling "quad-play" services at the edge of the carrier network.
The enhancements include support for broadband aggregation and session border control for VOIP (voice over IP) applications. Shetty claimed it provides the first Ethernet service edge routing that supports video, voice, data and mobility.
The Content Delivery System is available now along with enhancements to the Scientific Atlanta set-top boxes. The VQE and 7600 Series Router enhancements will go through customer trials in the first quarter.
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