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World Cup 2014: Imagine the HD TV Experience

As Doug Webster mentioned in our first post on this topic, we’ve been considering how the TV viewing experience might evolve in four more years. I can also already imagine the likely enhancements that will transform the FIFA World Cup in 2014.

I believe that in the foreseeable future the term “Television” entertainment may be equally associated with on-demand video streaming over the Internet as it is with traditional linear programming via broadcast channels. At home, many pay-TV service providers will have deployed hybrid set-top boxes that combine video content from a variety of different content sources.

Mainstream User Adoption of Streaming Video
According to Akamai’s latest real-time World Cup 2010 assessment, the tournament is already shaping up to be a major Internet milestone event. If the current state of video streaming adoption produces these incredible results, then just try to imagine how IP video consumption will skyrocket once online viewing behavior increasingly shifts from the PC screen to the TV set.

In the near term, service providers will continue experimenting with several different entertainment distribution business models that include a content delivery network (CDN) component. The applications of CDNs will be pervasive, and as we’ve already witnessed with the recent Direct One deployment in Romania, it will become a truly global phenomenon that reaches all markets.

The other trend that’s accelerating quickly is the availability of 3D video content.

Satisfying an Appetite for HD 3D Innovation
Late last year, FIFA and Sony announced that up to 25 matches of the 2010 World Cup would be broadcast in 3D. ESPN in the US, Sogecable in Spain, and Korea’s SBS are some of the networks that are offering this option to their subscribers.

And in May, our customer Numericable, in France, announced the availability of high definition 3D content in its VoD service that will launch later this year – the first service provider worldwide to do so.

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Navigate like a Hammerhead Shark: Get a 360 Degree View of SP Data Center & Virtualization Content

Hello again!

The scalloped hammerhead is one of the few creatures in the world that has 360 degree vision. Wouldn’t it be great if those of us involved in the service provider market could have the hammerhead’s panoramic view and easy access to the content we need to make the best business decisions? In today’s constantly evolving communications landscape, we can see that content is everywhere…video, events, webinars, podcasts, articles, industry research, white papers.

In this sea of ubiquitous communication vehicles, it’s easy to miss relevant, potentially useful information that’s been swept away by the torrent of articles that are constantly competing for our attention. Fortunately, you now have a new tool that automatically aggregates Service Provider Data Center, Virtualization & Cloud content from a variety of sources and puts it all into one organized and easily accessible place so you can find the content you need when you need it.

For example, we recently posted a video blog that features TELUS, a Canadian service provider, which has leveraged Cisco Unified Service Delivery architecture to unify data center and networking resources. The aggregator widget links to the video, as well as other Service Provider Data Center, Virtualization & Cloud multimedia, so you can quickly find related content.

Our content widget can be downloaded to the desktop, where you can – customize it with your own RSS feed. Or, you can embed the standard version in your own web page.

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Why Should You Join an Ethernet Exchange?

Recently we talked about scaling up for Zettabyte Era growth. However, what’s important to remember is that traffic will often be carried over many networks to reach its destination – and somewhere, somehow there must be a way to interconnect them.  Ethernet is far and away the most popular way to do that not just for its flexibility but also because it is the most cost effective.

As a Local Area Network technology, Ethernet (and let’s not forget to capitalize that “E”!) wasn’t originally designed for interconnecting carriers – a number of innovations were needed before it could be called “Carrier Ethernet.” For example, there was no easy way to troubleshoot connections, to scale the number of virtual local area networks, or VLANs, needed in a service provider environment, or even a set of industry standards that could be referenced to ensure that services across multiple carriers and equipment vendors could interoperate.

exchangeToday, those issues are gone. Now Ethernet Operations and Maintenance is much more sophisticated to enable performance monitoring and fault management. Ethernet encapsulation standards such as 802.1ad and 802.1ah (you know, the things you too probably discuss at your weekend BBQs) define how to greatly increase the number of circuits that could be carried, and more importantly to allow for Ethernet tags to be carried across multiple service providers.

Most recently a new standard has been ratified by the Metro Ethernet Forum that defines how service providers should interconnect with each other. Our Cisco representative, Lionel Florit (who is also on the MEF Board of Directors and co-chair of the Technical Committee), reported that the Ethernet Network-to-Network Interface specification (known as “MEF 26” to Lionel and our standards team but is referred to by people like me as “that thing that Lionel worked on that, you know, made things work better together”) was ratified in January 2010. This will remove many obstacles that affect a service provider’s ability to easily exchange data, voice, and video traffic using a common Ethernet framework with other providers at Layer 2.

All of this is leading to the creation of a new, innovative type of service provider – the “Ethernet exchange” Provider. An Ethernet exchange is a carrier-neutral facility that enables both carriers and enterprise customers the ability interconnect using Ethernet interfaces using standardized service agreements. Somewhat like an airport terminal – everyone meets at the airport but has a choice of different carriers and destinations once they get there. The exchange concept is how carriers will meet the challenge to expand Ethernet service availability to all required customer endpoints while reducing time-to-revenue and reducing operational expenses. The Ethernet exchange also aids providers to scale more quickly and profitably, because connections to the exchange can be augmented as traffic increases.

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IPv6: The State of the Next-Gen Internet

Awareness of the challenges associated with the forthcoming depletion of IPv4 addresses is increasing in the general public. While we’ve been highlighting some of the challenges and solutions to the problem some time now, the issue is getting more and more attention in the mainstream press. Last month CNN.com raised the issue with “Are you Ready for the Big Internet Crunch” which mentions the current estimate of September 2011 as being the exact time when we exhaust all IPv4 addresses.

What’s pretty amazing when you compare the estimates now to those of a similar article published over a decade earlier (September 1999) by CNN as well: “The Great IP Crunch of 2010.” Being off by only 10% a decade out is quite an accomplishment in the fast moving technology industry! What’s just as interesting, from my standpoint at least, is that the 1999 article mentions only one company by name that was preparing early: Japan’s NTT.

That preparation is now paying off for NTT Communications.

We had a chance to sit down with NTT America’s Chief Technology Officer Douglas A. Junkins to discuss demand for 100GE services and the importance of an IPv6-ready network. They are at the leading edge of the transition that will only make their perspectives all the more valuable for this industry. I encourage you to watch.

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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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