AlcaLu, thePlatform Take On Cisco's Videoscape

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)-owned thePlatform Inc. have teamed up in an effort to help cable operators and other service providers extend the reach of their pay-TV services to connected TVs, tablets, smartphones and PCs. The move puts the new partnership in direct competition with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which is pitching a similar message with its Videoscape offering, though AlcaLu and thePlatform claim their ecosystem will be more open and modular than Cisco's. (See AlcaLu, thePlatform Team On TV Everywhere and Can Videoscape Save Cisco's Set-Top Business?)

The new partners' offering includes AlcaLu's Multiscreen Content Delivery Network, which is based on the company's Velocix CDN (content delivery network) platform, and thePlatform's mpx video publishing and management system. They're also including software-based clients based on AlcaLu's IPTV client and thePlatform's HTML5-based player development kit (PDK) that handle the secure playback of live, linear TV and on-demand video on the target devices, from handheld displays all the way up to IP-connected big-screen TVs.

The system aims to "bring set-top-like protection" and quality to any device, says Derrick Frost, SVP of global IP video solutions at AlcaLu. He says at least one Tier 1 US cable operator is already using AlcaLu's CDN product.

The idea is to help service providers bridge the gap from their old TV-locked systems and "walled gardens" of content to one that can fulfill their vision for TV Everywhere while also supporting content and apps from Web-based sources. The idea is that this can all be done over managed IP infrastructure and CDNs that can be managed by the service operator.

"What we see are those two worlds colliding," Ian Blaine, CEO of thePlatform. "We think the rules of the game are changing worldwide for video and for pay-TV operators."

To keep the video experience consistent, the partners will rely on adaptive streaming, which adjusts bit rates and resolutions based on available bandwidth. In addition, their offering will include AppGlide, AlcaLu's recently launched video analytics tool for OTT video and CDNs. (See AlcaLu Gets Down With OTT.)

Alcatel-Lucent, which claims to have 60 IPTV and 45 mobile TV deployments, will be taking the lead on selling the integrated system worldwide.

Although they could market this to companies that are eager to become virtual MSOs, delivering pay-TV packages over-the-top of others' infrastructure, the new partnership will initially target traditional service providers that operate their own access networks and infrastructure and are looking to migrate to an IP video platform. (See Hulu: 'Virtual MSO' in the Making? and Is Roku a 'Virtual MSO'? )

Why this matters
For thePlatform, the deal should give it more traction outside North America and a growth path that extends well beyond its broadband TV background. AlcaLu, meanwhile, is trying to grab cable traction, and its partner happens to be working with several MSOs, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cox Communications Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI), among others.

Their tech combination will also apply pressure on Cisco and could make service providers less reliant on third-party CDN partners such as Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) and Limelight Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: LLNW).

Theoretically, this set-up could enable MSOs to pitch subscription-TV services outside their regular franchise areas, as long as they obtained the rights to do so.

For more
For more about cable's interest in CDNs and TV Everywhere, check out these stories.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 5:02:06 PM
re: AlcaLu, thePlatform Take On Cisco's Videoscape

Great for competition across the industry.


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