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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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Advanced Video in Spain

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the video bonanza happening in the U.S., and forget to notice the groundswell of advanced video activities in other parts of the world.

Well, we’re here to tell you: Advanced video is alive and well in Spain. This week, we formalized an ongoing partnership with ONO, the largest cable operator in Spain, and the country’s leading broadband service provider.


Fernando Meco, ONO’s TV Product Development Director

Technically, the announcement means we’ve successfully deployed our DOCSIS 3.0-based CMTS, linked over ONO’s extensive fiber optics network, to our 8685DVB HD-DVR media servers – hybrid set-tops, containing both MPEG and DOCSIS tuners. Read More »

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