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IBC 2010: Day 1 – Greetings from Amsterdam

As the IBC show kicks off in Amsterdam, I wanted to go over some main themes of the conference, share some near-death experiences, and highlight what’s on every service provider’s mind:  thriving in an every changing industry landscape.

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IBC 2010: Why IP Video, Why Now?

Cisco Helps Magyar Telekom Deploy First-Ever Video Over DOCSIS 3.0 Solution

Magyar Telekom sealed its position as a pioneer in IP video delivery last month, going live with an IPTV service to 1.5 million homes in Budapest and Southeast Hungary.

Why are we thrilled? Partly because it validates our constant drumbeat about IP video, and how “it’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming.” And partly, because Magyar’s deployment is based on our EuroDOCSIS 3.0 solution – including our completely modular CMTS and cable modem/MTA-based residential gateways. It’s a milestone moment, worth commemorating. It’s our first announced deployment of our V-DOC (Video over DOCSIS) components, which in and of itself is gratifying.

That’s why this blog, and the two-part video that accompanies it, is packaged to emphasize the reasons why IP video is here – now.

Why IP video, why now? Because consumer viewing patterns are at a transition. A big transition, frankly. The notion of “TV Everywhere” is one indication of how service providers are working toward a delivery model that can ingest and display not only traditional, MPEG-based video, but also video coming from multiple different sources – to be played out on demand, linearly, or broadcast.

Bottom line: As consumers expand their methods for consuming video, so must service providers, like Magyar, expand their means of ingesting, delivering, and displaying video.

Our view is, the shift to video over IP brings with it an unprecedented degree of flexibility, speed to market, and personalization – elements that weren’t necessarily there, with traditional video delivery formats.

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IBC 2010: The Monetization of Social Media

Social media, as we’ve talked about on SP360, is no longer just something fun or trendy but rather has hit the mainstream. Now, companies are able to look to the medium not just for promotional purposes but also to establish a much longer term, loyalty-focused relationship with their customers. In such a relationship, there are some unique monetization opportunities for providers and content producers alike. Scott Brown, who directs marketing for our Cisco Media Solutions Group and is an all-around cool guy to boot, was on a panel of thought leaders in the industry talking about “monetizing social” and shares some of the highlights and main takeaways from the conversation with new media leaders of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Universal Music, BBC Worldwide, and more.

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IBC 2010: IP Video Groundswell – What’s Next?

Given the flurry of recent announcements on video content services, industry analysts and pundits have been busy assessing or commenting on the likely implications and outcomes.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about where broadband service providers will likely be pursuing new related revenue opportunities. We believe that the upside market potential for forward-looking SPs is perhaps limited only by our own imagination. Here’s my perspective:

Apparently, we’ve collectively reached a point where an IP video strategy is considered a given. The focus has shifted to where to place appropriate emphasis towards that strategic direction. For example, we are now seeing some service providers leveraging their medianet assets to enable an increasing array of wholesale content delivery network (CDN) services.

We envision that broadband service providers will be working more closely with content providers. They now share a common cause – preparing for the evolving video consumption habits of mainstream consumers. Moreover, it appears that we’re already moving beyond the early-adopter stage of digital video consumption, via TV screens within the family room, towards anywhere, anytime delivery of video services to many devices.

How can service providers leverage their networks to engage new customers and thereby capture market share? First, let’s keep in mind that video quality of service (QoS) is an important attribute for a superior quality of experience that consumers will truly appreciate and value. Content delivery networks out there are already helping media providers to deliver content to consumers, but with an “over the top” delivery at the end that offers no guarantees of quality of service. Now, service providers are uniquely positioned to offer content providers such delivery services though their networks, with an assured quality of experience, all the way to viewers.

Armed with a solid service delivery foundation, retail IP video providers can then freely explore distinctive value-add service benefits. If providers have access to similar video content selections, then perhaps they must choose to innovate in other areas. Services such as multi-screen delivery, and targeted advertising, certainly come to mind.

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IBC 2010: Network Infrastructure – The Backbone for Connected Video Devices

As IBC gets into full swing around the twin themes of connected devices and IP video-galore, a note from the quieter (but just as promising) infrastructure sidelines…

The proliferation of intelligent devices at the end points of the network is dramatic. No doubt. This period we’re in now – fledgling tablets, smarter smart phones, and all sizes of screens blanketed by a wired or wireless Internet connection – it’s a major milestone in the timeline that is the rise of IP.

However, let’s not forget the role of the network. Those intelligent devices need to connect to one another over something – and just because the end points are smart doesn’t mean the middle can relax.

Consider: Our most recent Visual Networking Index (VNI), which predicts bandwidth usage, anticipates a four-fold increase in global Internet traffic by 2014, to 767 Exabytes. That’s about 10x all the traffic that moved over IP networks in 2008. No sign of slowdown. In fact, just the opposite!

With that kind of growth happening over a relatively short span, it’s important to pay an equal amount of attention to infrastructure. The plant. The network. In short, infrastructure matters. It’s always time to pay attention to the middle, in addition to the end points.

And with that as a jumping-off point, two items of interest that we’re hoping don’t get overlooked in the IBC excitement:

  1. We just became the first manufacturer to submit every component within an end-to-end Carrier Ethernet system to the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), and were validated to meet both MEF 9 and MEF 14 requirements by test lab Iometrix. It’s behind-the-scenes news, yes, but it’s the kind of achievement that lays the foundation for the trust that comes with successfully interoperating products.
  2. We’re grateful and glad to spread the word about Spanish networking  provider Abertis Telecom, which is prepping its plant into an IP NGN (next generation network) capable of carrying contribution-grade video, video production signals, carrier Ethernet, and high-end content distribution to its customers of terrestrial, satellite and fiber transport.

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