Saturday, November 28, 2009

YouTube shuts down API access for unlicensed STB makers

This is potentially big: YouTube is shutting down API access, except for 'a few strategic parners' (TiVo, PS3, Wii). Bad news for STB makers without a content deal with Google - and equally good news for those that do have one.
There are many of them around, including lots of start-ups, and they build much of their business case on access to: VoD, sports, catch-up TV and .... YouTube.
So, this may lead to a much-needed shake-out, but at the same time one wonders: would Google itself have any IPTV (hardware) ambitions?

The Sixth Sense progresses

Good to see that Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry are actually making progress on their Sixth Sense project. Hat tip to Benoit for pointing us to the new TED presentation (November 2009):
as a follow-up to the March 2009 presentation:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dedicated fiber's killer app: streaming video

Even if growth of the Internet was huge, the arrrival of video was a revolution. And yet, people are still looking for a killer app to justify NGN build-out. I think it is here now, and it is called streaming video.

Up to now, we mostly live in a download world. No matter if it's a web page, a .pdf file, an MP3 file or a movie, we basically download (causing a traffic burst) and then read/listen/watch. Even YouTube fundamentally is a download service. And after downloading, we are pretty much offline for a while.

This ties into a FTTH project that I had a chance to talk about with the operator. It has roughly 100 homes subscribing, with services ranging between 20 and 100 Mbps. But here comes the shocker: the aggregated bandwidth used never crosses the 100 Mbps mark!

Sandvine recently published its 2009 Global Broadband Phenomena report, claiming that streaming video is exploding already (to 27% of total traffic, from 13% in 2008). However, they include YouTube in the 'real-time entertainment traffic', while fundamentally it is a download service. Further, the top 1% of subscribers account for 25% of traffic. I would add that this 1% is not a constant group, but that all of us are part of it at different times.

Obviously, in a streaming world, traffic will explode. Imagine the continuous flow of 10 Mbps caused by watching HD video, as opposed to the bursts from downloading. The consequences will be especially large for shared networks (cable, PON, wirelsss). If Nielsen's law is to hold, it looks like dedicated fiber is the only infrastructure that will keep up.

So here is the point I would make, based on the above:
In a download world, any NGN will do, but in a streaming world we need dedicated fiber.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Amino announces hybrid OTT STB with Intel's CE4100

A press release from Amino adds to the OTT discussion, or more generally: IP-based services replacing dedicated networks (PSTN, CATV). Is OTT a threat, an opportunity, or something in between for traditional video network operators?

The OTT sector can be subdivided in three groups:
  1. Start-ups. There are dozens, including at least three in the Netherlands: UCD, Stream Group, and a promising newcomer: Metrological, that I wrote about in this report. Others include Sezmi, that just raised another $25m and launched a pilot. Trials, trials, more trials ....
  2. OTT giants, with an established revenue stream. Apple (Apple TV), Netflix (Roku), but where is Google? All its efforts are going towards mobile: search, ads, display ads (AdMob), operating systems (Android, Chrome OS), applications (VoIP, maps), possibly a smartphone and a Clearwire stake. Is IPTV the next big leap for Google? Are they awaiting all these trials to see who gets most successful - and then buy it, just like they did YouTube?
  3. Traditional operators. As usual, newcomers may open up the market, but traditional players more than once end up winners. Once they feel the heat, they embrace the new technology and rebalance their revenues away from their legacy sources of income. With Amino, an established STB vendor, announcing an Intel CE 4100 based box combining broadcast and OTT video, this may just be happening once again.

TelePresence hits the Southbank

Vindication for Cisco's TelePresence: Southbank Sinfonia doing auditions via the system. Candidates were in Sydney, the orchestra is based in London.

Latency issues make you wonder how an opera performance such as below can be done.
On-net over fiber, latency can be as low as 3 ms, which seems fine.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Polar Communications: FTTN cannot keep up with future demand

Polar Communications of Park River (North Dakota) is ordering FTTH gear from Occam Networks. What makes it especially remarkable is this quote from the press release:
Polar realised its long term FTTN strategy would be unable to keep up with future demand. The solution was a shift to a FTTP strategy that began two years ago and will continue with the current Occam deployment.
It is a GPON deployment, so we'll see when they will need to replace that with a point-to-point network.

Ams-IX takes another hurdle: 800 Gb/s

Ams-IX traffic has recently broken a new barrier, the 800 Gb/s level. In fact, the peak level has almost reached 850 Gb/s.