IP video is the topic that keeps on giving for tech journalists, and I’ve read any number of articles lately addressing different aspects of IP delivery. Here are a few I’ve run across, compiled with some of my own commentary.
IPTV Discussion Gets Real
Jonathan Tombes over at Communications Technology magazine has an excellent article out detailing cable operator discussions of IP video delivery. He covers everything from consolidating CPE, to the role of the CMTS, to creating more efficient networks. On that final point, Tombes cites a statistic saying that variable bit rate encoding (VBR) can enable 50% more video streams than constant bit rate encoding (CBR). According to a Motorola paper presented back at SCTE, however, that projection for VBR might be a bit rosy. Factoring in packet recovery appears to reduce those gains to a more realistic 20-25%. As Tombes points out, though, VBR is not the only efficiency-driving technology on the horizon. Operators are also looking at IP multicasting.
thePlatform Plugs in TV Everywhere
Jeff Baumgartner weighs in today on an announcement from thePlatform that the company is releasing its own, um, platform for enabling programmers to offer TV Everywhere content on their own sites. The key component of the new solution appears to be its Authentication Adapter. While executives moaned a mere few months ago about the problems of authentication, including its complexity and the fact that operators are approaching it from different angles, it now appears that we’re well on our way to having those dilemmas solved. The Authentication Adapter is designed to validate legitimate subscribers, authorize video playback, and match up video title data with the right channel line-up and subscription package. As Jeff explains, the new solution means that the same type of authentication system could be used whether on-demand content is aggregated or doled out individually by programmers.
The End of the Broadband Buffet is Nigh
Finally, Stacey Higginbotham posted yesterday on hints that the flat-price model for broadband fees may be on its way out as video demand increases. The debate between flat-fee service and tiered pricing (or metered broadband) has been going on for some time, but Stacey specifically points out Verizon’s reasons behind its support for consumption-based billing, and why having plenty of bandwidth doesn’t mean the company thinks flat fees are the right long-term answer. In short, Verizon has spent a lot of money on its fiber-to-the-home network and sees tiered broadband as the “fairest cost recovery model.” With the wave of TV Everywhere services on its way, there will soon be serious value in having higher bandwidth limits in consumer broadband service plans. Perceived value signals to providers that they should consider premium prices. It’s the very simple law of supply and demand. Will consumers pay? The history of the cable industry suggests they (we) will.