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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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CMAP, CESAR, Whatever It Takes

By Mark Palazzo, VP/GM, Cable Access Business Unit, Cisco Systems

One of the more nuanced aspects of hard-core technological developments in the cable industry these recent months is the “CMAP v. CESAR” debate. Haven’t heard of it? Boiled way down, it’s a different set of viewpoints about the best way to migrate to a converged CMTS and universal edge QAM architecture, in conjunction with cable’s HFC (hybrid fiber-coax) plant migration.

To put this in historical context, cable operators “went digital” in phases. Digital video was first, followed by broadband data via cable modems, followed fairly shortly after by voice over IP. Operators use a form of modulation called “QAM” (quadrature amplitude modulation) to get video, data and voice signals over the plant to subscribing homes and businesses.

At issue was simple market timing: Digital video vendors built QAM products specifically to support video; broadband-side vendors built different QAM products, for high-speed data; and voice equipment vendors built QAM based TDM products for voice. The proprietary data and voice products where later replaced with the standardized DOCSIS CMTS platform. Read More »

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NAB 2011: On Making One Linear Channel into 20+ Video Streams

Just a few years ago, the big topic at the annual National Association of Broadcasters event was the digital transition. In that same time frame, we used to refer to “two screen” and “three screen” environments, to describe the shift of video programming to PCs and smaller screens.

All of that seems quaint now, in hindsight. The digital transition happened, without a lot of fanfare, in July of 2009; now, the number of screens capable of displaying television and video streams is into the double and triple digits.

Indeed, today’s all-digital marketplace is placing new challenges on the shoulders of the nation’s broadcasters.


John Bishop, Sr. VP of Business Development & Strategy for Inlet Technologies, now a part of Cisco, talks about Inlet’s multi-screen delivery and monetization and how these will add to Cisco’s offering.

For starters, today’s broadcast and cable networks are being asked to deliver one linear channel in as many as 30 different versions, because of the plethora of adaptive streaming methods in market. One linear stream might need to be encoded in to eight versions for Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), six to eight for Adobe Flash, and so on for Microsoft Silverlight and other emerging platforms.

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Making Money in Internet Video

If you are a service provider, the title of this blog probably has you shaking your head. SPs know only too well that Internet video is costing them money because of the expense of maintaining an infrastructure capable of delivering high-quality online video. The good news is that there is a way to monetize that demanding video traffic.

In 10 to 15 years, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) estimates that consumers will be watching Internet video as much as 50 percent of their video-watching time. Rather than panicking at the thought of supporting that magnitude of video traffic, SPs should be thinking about how to turn it into profits.

SPs have a strategic advantage over current content delivery network (CDN) providers; traditional CDN services allow content providers to bypass Internet congestion points, but do not allow them to bypass potential congestion points within the SP network that provides Internet access to consumers. CDN services delivered via the SP’s network are delivered by CDN caches placed much closer to the final viewer, reducing the probability of having congestion issues over the delivery path.

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