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Why I’m Feelin’ Good About Chicago and The Cable Show

By Mark Palazzo, VP/GM, Cisco’s Cable Access business

As industry vendors, we go into every tradeshow mired in details. From the packed meeting schedules to the booth demos (things go much better when they work…!) to the evening events with customers and industry colleagues, it’s far less glamorous than our non-convention-going friends might think. Right? Then there’s struggle to get the suitcase zipped, with the new tonnage of stuff needing transit back to the office.

It’s only afterwards, with a weekend in between to parse the major themes, that the answers come. I’ve checked in with several Cisco colleagues who were on-site in Chicago for The Cable Show last week. We’re in agreement that if the question is “I saw the whole thing! What happened??” in terms of this year’s blur of a Cable Show, our short list goes like this:

  1. Optimism reigns in cable. In years past, and especially last year, it seemed that a miasma of anxiousness blanketed the cable industry, led by fears of over-the-top video providers – and especially Netflix, as a contender for the industry’s own video-on-demand business. This year, we went into the show fresh with knowledge that Netflix traffic continues to gobble up broadband capacity -- yet the sense of optimism amongst service providers was unmistakable. To me, it almost felt like the buoyant good will of the go-go-franchise years, in the late ‘70s. With continued evidence that DOCSIS can see the industry through even the heaviest of bandwidth-heavy times, coupled with significant advancements in both “cloud” and “client” – it’s gratifying, as a vendor company focused nearly entirely on network, client, and cloud! Read More »

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The Buzz About Cisco and Red Bee Media

By Bart Spreister, Sr. Director, IP Video Systems, Cisco

Today we announced our collaboration with Red Bee Media, an international media management company, to offer broadcasters and media companies the means to provide TV and other kinds of digital media through streaming video players and VOD portals.

That’s kind of a mouthful. Allow me break it down into my top three reasons why this is one of the more exciting deals I’ve had the good fortune to be involved with:

  1. Red Bee is cool, --plain and simple. Those who hang out on the U.S. side of the Atlantic may not have heard much about Red Bee Media before, so let me explain it this way: Imagine going to another country to hang out with your new colleague, who knows everybody and is doing all the coolest stuff in video. Red Bee is that kind of partner. They’re a highly respected TV and media aggregator in Europe, and especially the U.K. For instance, of the five major broadcasters there, Red Bee provides the online portal and client. They’re creative and connected and fun, which is a great combination. Read More »

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Yes, Virginia, There is a (Very!) Long-Term Future for DOCSIS Technologies

Contributed By John Chapman, Chief Technology Officer, Cisco Cable Access Business Unit, and Engineering Fellow

Earlier this year, as part of CableLabs’ “Innovation Showcase,” in Atlanta, we showed how DOCSIS 3.0-based technologies can gracefully and powerfully scale, if operators were to continue increasing the number of digital channels they place into a DOCSIS bond.

The question we were endeavoring to answer was this: Is DOCSIS dead, or does it have another 15+ years of life in it? The answer is clearly the latter.  Why? Because the classification and QoS features in backbone routers (like our recently announced ASR 9000 System) are architected for massive speed, in terms of packets-per-second - and those features will migrate down into cable CMTS gear.

The demo for CableLabs focused on our 3G60 CMTS cards, which bonded 48 downstream channels and 12 upstream channels, using 256 QAM in the downstream, and 64-QAM in the upstream. The result was a 1.6 Gbps downstream pipe, and 300 Mbps upstream. But that was back in February. The bond size was generous, but still partial. When you consider the full spectrum capacity of cable television systems - from 54 MHz to 1 GHz, downstream, and from 5 MHz to 42 MHz upstream - clearly, there’s a lot more breathing room for wideband IP services.

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Cisco at Cable Connections

By now, you’re packed and ready to get to Chicago for The Cable Show. Last we saw you, as trade shows go, was six months ago, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). That’s when we announced our “Videoscape” strategy.

Quick refresher: Videoscape is our way to describe what happens when service providers integrate cloud, network and client, to deliver a more immersive customer experience.

Since January and CES, we’ve deepened our Videoscape efforts - with a focus on  reducing implementation complexity, while enabling service providers to roll out TV Everywhere style services.  We want to make sure it’s on your list of things to check out!

So, without further ado, here’s what’s going on with Cisco at the Cable Show (at least what’s public):

In the booth (#749):

  • Videoscape Experience: A showcase that unifies linear, on-demand and online content with a full lifecycle content management system that we call Videoscape Media Suite and powered by our CDN network.  Look for the 10-foot user interface (it’s kind of hard to miss) showing IP STB and soft clients running on IOS, Android and PC/Mac environments.
  • Videoscape Cloud: When you can’t put something in the end device, for whatever reasons, put it in a network that can optimize the experience for that end device. Our cloud contains elements of unified computing (UCS), transcoding into right-sized streams for different screens (CTM), and it’s a delivery platform for multi-screen video consumption (CDS). Why do it? To leverage the power of the network enabled cloud to reach your service to multiple end-points (managed and unmanaged) - all from a common back-end while retaining device independence.
  • Video over DOCSIS 3.0: Come see the CMTS that gives 10x the bandwidth at 1/10th the cost of D2 services.  Our CMTS platform can now demonstrate QoS levels for adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming; also check out our soft client for video playback in non-traditional end devices.
  • Cisco Prime Network Management: “Prime” is the umbrella name for our management and automation solutions for analyzing, designing, fulfilling and assuring network performance. It’s a modular suite of applications, designed to lower the total cost of ownership and to provide A-to-Z management for next-generation packet and transport networks.
  • Healthcare via TelePresence: For so many people, it’s not convenient or near to go visit the doctor. Cisco TelePresence offers person-to-person (and person-to-doctor) communication, unbounded by distance or physical location. As service providers continue to enter new commercial business segments, health care is a leading candidate. It’s ideal for telemedicine applications, it lowers the cost of care, and it provides a new and efficient way for physicians and hospitals to do business.
  • Service Provider Wi-Fi Solutions: Interested in adding carrier-grade Wi-Fi to your services mix? Check out our Next Generation HotSpot technology, which aims to simplify customer authentication and monetize WiFi networks. Also new: Come see our High Density WiFi, designed to provide wireless broadband coverage in sports and entertainment stadium environments.

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Deep Thoughts with Dr. Ken: Virtualization & Videoscape

Dr. Ken MorseContributed By Ken Morse, Chief Technology Officer, Cisco Service Provider Video Technology Group

It’s probably not all that surprising, given the state of the video marketplace these days, that what’s top of mind for me is the migration of video to IP (Internet Protocol) everything.

At this point, I think we’re all fairly clear on what the end game looks like – pick any definition you favor about “TV Everywhere” and “the four Anys” (anytime, anywhere, any thing, any device). I think we can all agree that that’s where we’re headed.

The challenge now is that so many different paths exist to get there. As usual!, right? Differences between service providers exist for understandable reasons: Starting position (which options were selected for bandwidth creation/preservation?), plant configuration (switched or not?), and economics (what’s the budget?)

As a vendor, one of the bigger challenges in building products for the IP video migration is identifying which elements to put in the toolbox, to support all of the different ways service providers are considering. There’s the QAM termination approach, there’s the “run high-speed data to the hilt” approach, and several other options in the middle.

My view is, serve them all by gradually “virtualizing” the elements in the toolbox.  Encapsulate the functionalities of a particular component - whatever it is - and then instantiate those same functionalities on another device.

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