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The Superbowl and the medianet

It’s always exciting to be a part of a string of important video technology trends. It’s even more exciting to be a part of a string of important video technology trends that happen at the Super Bowl.

The February 7th matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts included three technology twists. On the surface, and to the (record-setting) 106 million television viewers, they combined to create a replay so flawless in video detail, a call was overturned -- putting the Saints in the lead by two points.

But underlying that was an earlier series of decisions: A 10-camera array, transmitted in uncompressed digital, over IP.

Published reports about the setup reveal some initial internal concerns about technical overkill. But over and over throughout the game, the additional cameras, edited in uncompressed form, yielded an unprecedented level of visual precision -- which resulted in overwhelmingly positive professional and public reviews. (See “CBS Sports Delivers Winning Telecast as Production Team Excels,” 2010-FEB-9roadcasting & Cable Magazine)

Behind the scenes, two other important things were going on. One was the decision to use uncompressed digital camera outputs, rather than MPEG-compressed versions. Compression is an unparalleled way to conserve bandwidth, but it works by throwing away duplicative bits, from one frame of video to the next - a technique that is inherently “lossy.”

By contrast, uncompressed video is “lossless.” Nothing is lost, no bits are thrown away. Uncompressed, “lossless” transmission of the camera outputs is what gave CBS Sports editors the raw video bit strength to broadcast hyper-accurate slow motion, for the overturn call, and multiple camera angles, to deal with the no-huddle strategies of both teams.

When you’re in video production, it’s fairly simple: You want as much detail as possible. You want lossless. You want uncompressed.

Technology twist number three is where we come in. Our partner, Level 3, stepped up with the fiber resources to enable a clean, wide, 1.5 Gbps passageway between Florida and New York - a distance of more than 1,200 route miles and placed our Digital Content Manager Gateways (DCMs) at both ends of the fiber, to encapsulate the uncompressed HD video streams into IP for transmission.

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Ultra HD Video Challenges SP Networks: Are you ready, Cisco CRS?

By now, if you haven’t experienced the movie Avatar in the theater, you most certainly have seen the buzz. Surpassing Titanic as the highest-grossing film is a feat in itself. However, of even more interest is that Avatar’s sales breakup indicates higher revenue from 3D and Imax showings. And history shows that which starts out in a theater eventually makes its way to our living rooms and quite possibly our mobile devices. Take for example, color movies, dolby surround sound, widescreen formats, video projectors and more. This leads to an inevitable conclusion: it’s the coming-out party for three-dimensional visual experiences.

It’s natural that people want more…of everything. The demand for more mobile access is clear in my previous blog. I highlighted that the explosion of devices is leading to the shortage of a key Internet resource: IP addresses. Cisco is addressing (no pun intended) this challenge with the unique Carrier-Grade IPv6 (CGv6) solution, with the CRS platform playing a key part. Now, people want more from their viewing experiences. Three-dimensional video technology is making its way to commercial viability. When it begins to arrive into our homes, 3D TV will be adapted for delivery on IP networks leading to more massive bandwidth needs. How much bandwidth are we talking about? At this stage the standards for 3D HDTV are in evolution. Conservative estimates peg each 3D HD channel to consume 10 to 15 Mbps. For a city with half-million subscribers that translates to upwards of 7.5 Tbps of capacity.

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Mobile World Congress 2010: What an Event it Was

As I reflect upon the time that we’ve been able to share with our valued SP customers at the Mobile World Congress, here in Barcelona, I believe that I speak of all the Cisco leadership when I say - thank you, we really appreciate your thoughtful words of encouragement.

Kit Beall, Sr. Directory Mobility, SP Sales, and Nick Adamo,  SVP, US SP Theater & Global SP Market Segment, joined me to recap what we’ll take away from our exciting experience at this year’s MWC event. Mobile Internet has truly moved to the core of the forward-looking SP strategic business plan. The Cisco acquisition of Starent was perceived by our customers to be right on target - directly in line with their needs and expectations.

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Cisco Flip Video™ Footage From the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games

As we have almost reached the half-way point for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, I wanted to share with you exclusive footage that was taped using Cisco Flip Video™ cameras to tell “the rest of the story” from the Olympics Opening Day & the Chinatown Spring Festival. Please check out NBCOlympics.com February 12-28 for complete footage from the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.

Additionally, please be sure to check out how Cisco is providing NBC with medianet technologies to support its coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.

Olympics Opening Day Montage
Go Canada Go! See a Cisco Flip Video collection of moments from this year’s Opening Day, including a run with the torch bearer, and zipline snowboard and hockey players. Ten points for attribution on the torch bearer; ten more for an accurate count of how many other Flip cameras you can count in this Opening Day video montage, captured on Flip Video.

Chinatown Spring Festival
This year’s Olympic Games coincided with the annual Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival, on February 14th near the Chinese Cultural Centre. The festival bursts with color and sound, in celebration of the Chinese lunar year. This snippet, captured on Flip video, shows a different kind of team effort: Making a dragon dance.

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Mobile World Congress 2010: Challenges and Opportunities

Edwin Paalvast, VP Europe, for Cisco’s Service Provider business, shares his thoughts about the challenges and opportunities that our mobile service provider customers will likely encounter this year.

Smartphones were traditionally adopted primarily by the mobile early-adopter segment of the marketplace. Today, we’re witnessing the mainstream adoption of these very capable devices and the consumption of rich-media content.

Previously, we were discussing the “promise” of mobile data service/application consumption. Today we’re actually seeing the demand-curve trending upward in a very meaningful way.

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