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Commentary: Cisco, TI "Go Video"

At the final Supercomm, held in Chicago last year, Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers gave a great presentation. Besides telcos in the audience, there were also MSOs (cable operators) and pure-play IP startups. All heard the message loud and clear: Chambers unequivocally stated that video was The Next Big Thing. No longer would voice over IP be Cisco's core focus; instead it was setting its sites on the larger, more complex puzzle of moving video around the world, through the enterprise, and into the living room.

For those who missed that Supercomm presentation, Cisco reiterated the message earlier this week with a series of announcements at the ITU Telecom World show in Hong Kong. With a nod to "carriers of all types and sizes," Cisco is rolling out what it touts as the "Connected Life" for those who are willing to rely on Cisco's next generation network (see this page on Cisco's website for more details).

What exactly does Cisco's version of the connected life look like? Fairly close to today's life but with lots more services coming down the pipe. These include more than just broadband to the home, although Cisco doesn't differentiate between slow broadband like ADSL available in the U.S. market and the screaming fast XDSL available in the Asian market where the show is being held.

Industry analysts agree that it's not just about the pipe or basic store-and-forward video services."Delivering the 'Connected Life' is about much more than just broadcast and on-demand video," said Mark Bieberich, vice president, communications infrastructure for Yankee Group in a Cisco press release. "It's about personalized IP service bundles that integrate video, VoIP, internet access, messaging, gaming, and audio entertainment applications requiring dynamic multicasting, advanced QoS, and policy management. The delivery of personalized service bundles that include video requires a new approach to service control at the network edge. The Cisco IP NGN architecture is a solid foundation upon which to develop these new service offerings and business processes."

Several of the concepts that are being rolled out on Cisco's laundry list for the Next Generation Network have been attempted before-with varying degrees of success-but one that stands out as a practical and hopefully successful attempt is what Cisco touts as its Rapid Channel Change (RCC) and video error repair technologies, branded by Cisco as VQE or Video Quality Experience technologies.

The reasons that these two issues are important lie at the heart of consumer viewing patterns.

First, consumers expect a TV-like simplicity and consistency in their TV viewing, regardless of whether it's over the air, via cable, or delivered by IPTV. In short, they expect to be able to change the channel in IPTV as easily-and quickly-as they change the channel for analog television. Technical complexities aside, they really don't care about whether it is more or less difficult to set up and tear down an IP stream for a particular "channel" of video entertainment; they just want it to work like the technology it's replacing but offer more options, preferably at a lower price.

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