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September 29, 2009

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Adaptive Rate Streaming - the Internet's influence on pay-TV delivery

Are Internet video services, such as Hulu and the iPlayer, a threat to established pay-TV operators? The jury is still out.  While pundits insist that a significant number of current pay-TV subscribers will stop their monthly payments and go wholly broadband, some surveys suggest that overall we are just all watching more video from all sources!

But in at least one respect, the technical advances being made in Internet video delivery seem likely to strongly influence the standards used for offering service over managed networks. We are closely watching the current developments in adaptive rate streaming, which seem to make Internet video much more digestible, while at the same time addressing some of the problematic areas for extending the reach of video material from today's pay-TV systems.

From a technical sense, can streamed video over the Internet ever trump the much-hyped trend towards higher quality HD delivery systems? Will those folks who have invested in home theater systems with big screens and multi-channel sound systems be content to settle down and watch pixelated video with simple stereo sound?

I personally wouldn't have thought so, but it seems that if you can move beyond video stuttering, rebuffering and audio squawks in service delivery, many of us can overlook reduced resolution, washed out colors and lack of dynamic range.

But even videophiles would have to admit that this stuff looks and sounds good on an iPhone, so let's hope that the current trends just help us with offering greater choice of experience in our future pay-TV services.

A longer discussion of these issues can be found in our most recent white paper - please feel free to download and offer your comments!

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