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The World Cup. Watching at Work. A Massive Wave of Ways to Experience (and vuvuzelas)

Omar Gallaga, tech reporter for my local paper The Austin American Statesmen, pointed out a recent NPR interview discussing the fact that World Cup opened during the work week here in the U.S., forcing many to watch via the web on their work computers or even their mobile devices (for the record, on Friday, I was very busy entrenched in an individual strategic planning session and can in no way comment on the crazy offsides call in the 84th minute of the United States vs. Slovenia match).

Fans are now more than passive viewers (albeit animated ones…especially when crazy penalty calls are made…are you kidding me!) and the gap between a live experience and a viewing experience is getting ever more narrow. I was looking at this amazing infographic depicting the evolution of following and watching the World Cup over the last 80 years and was struck at the reality that technology is the enabler. And, for the first time ESPN and others are delivering 3D HDTV that is capturing every corner kick, pass, and goal scored (and, the ones that almost were…or should have been counted…but I’m not bitter or anything).

world cupIn addition to viewing the game at work and home, we can all experience the analysis, updates and have some fun with the many smart phone apps that are available from providers such as Univision, ESPN 2010 FIFA World Cup app, Mobi.TV Orb Live, AT&T’s Mobile TV, Verizon’s V CAST and Sprint TV.

All of this is bringing the world together in ways we’ve not yet imagined. Certainly, we’ll know more after the champion is crowned and the vuvuzelas mercifully silence, but I’ve seen some initial estimates that have the cumulative viewership of the tournament is expected to reach 28 billion. That’s astounding, but it’s just the beginning of where we will go in the future and it certainly reinforces the trends that we’ve mentioned in our recent VNI forecast where video is at the heart of nearly every major networked experience.

Are you seeing your co-workers and friends following the action from work or their mobile devices? How do you think it’s different from 2006 and where to you think it will be in 2014?

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Big News from South Africa (and no, not about that football tournament)

This month many people are reading fewer technology blogs such as SP360 but are focused on the World Cup news blogs such as this one. At Cisco we’re hoping that you’re also watching ESPN when they show player, coach, and analyst interviews using Cisco TelePresence (if you missed it, you can view this short entertaining video announcing our partnership with ESPN).

However, the World Cup isn’t the only big news coming out of South Africa right now. Last week we discussed recent innovations at the core and new innovations coming in other places in the network. Today we issued a press release with Neotel (part of the Tata Communications global network) – South Africa’s first converged communications network operator and Africa’s first Cisco TelePresence provider – announcing major enhancements to their Metro Ethernet network and to the Cisco Carrier Ethernet system. These enhancements are being driven by increasing customer demand for video, cloud, and wholesale services, trends that we’re also seeing validated in our latest Cisco Visual Networking Index data.

Neotel first announced their decision to choose the Cisco IP NGN Carrier Ethernet system for their network back in 2007, including the deployment of the Cisco 7600. One reason that Neotel has grown so quickly is that they weren’t just buying a set of platforms but actually a pre-tested, validated, and carefully documented end-to-end solution that could serve as the architectural foundation for their network able to deploy both initial and future services. Cisco’s IP NGN Carrier Ethernet system enables operators such as Neotel to offer TDM and packet services over a converged IP infrastructure and that can easily support future network requirements.

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CRS-3 Scores A Goal…in Japan

footballAll eyes are glued to South Africa to find out the ultimate winner of the greatest sporting event in the world. The lucky few can see this in person. The rest of us must settle for the video screen in our living rooms (or dare say at work), though the experience is certainly being enhanced by new technologies such as  the 3D HD video transmission offered by ESPN in the US and Sogecable in Spain.

As you can imagine, three-dimensional visual experiences need beefed-up IP networks with massively scalable core routers capable of prioritizing the traffic and handling the increased bandwidth. The Cisco CRS-3 is indeed up to the job for this demanding function – it wouldn’t work to have issues at a critical moment in a match. And, it’s the sort of innovation that scoring a few goals of it’s own as it won over the judges at Japan’s Interop event last week with the Cisco CRS-3 being presented with the “Best of Show” award.

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Happy Father’s Day! Best. Gift. Ever.

It’s Friday, and Sunday is Father’s Day in most countries. Just in case you’re still trying to choose between what will be his 3rd coffee mug, or, that monogrammed grill kit, I offer hope (and massive bandwidth). For the second year, 4 out of 5 CCIE’s agree that the perfect gift is…well…see for yourself!

And, to all the Fathers and role models out there, may you feel appreciated this Father’s Day!

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Scaling-Up the Network for Zettabyte Era Growth

Years ago, Cisco had asked the question, “Are You Ready?” Today, the citizens of the world certainly have said “Yes.”  Broadband service providers (SP) have seen progressive shifts in user demand. And now, the question seems to be the user’s asking their SP’s. “Are You Ready? – to meet the needs of us users?”

If you haven’t seen the VNI statistics, the results will shock you. SP’s are on the verge of witnessing staggering amounts of network traffic streaming through their networks. You ask, how staggering? Well, it’s akin to streaming 130,000 titles in the Netflix DVD library simultaneously in just one second.

How do you prepare for that upswing in network traffic? Some forward-looking SP’s are already taking preemptive actions – not just to meet needs through upgrades, but because they see an exciting upside opportunity. Consider the example of how Telstra has rolled out a new Content Delivery Network (CDN) in Australia.

In this business, growth is a given. However, the whole notion of what constitutes “high-growth” takes on new meaning when there’s a significant change in user application characteristics. For the SP, the answer cannot be simply larger and faster interfaces. There are new dynamics of traffic patterns and traffic flow that speed alone cannot solve efficiently. So, why has content distribution suddenly become an essential component of SP business strategy? The way we all consume information is rapidly evolving – whether at work, at home, or on the move. The average user, in the course of their day typically:

  • watches HD video content
  • uses a smartphone to check email, watch video, connect with friends, and use life assisting applications.
  • attends a video conference
  • Spends time social networking or playing games with a friend(s) over the Internet

For an SP, this implies that there will be more video to stream, more devices to connect, and higher expectations from customers on quality of experience.

However, let’s look at the key challenges SP’s face from a network perspective:

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