Bringing IP & HD to LO
11:00 AM -- Will the cable industry's embrace of IP video technology leave oft-forgotten local origination (LO), leased access (LA) and public, educational and government (PEG) channels far behind? Not if TelVue Corp. has anything to say about it.
Telvue, a quiet company controlled by Suburban Cable founder Gerry Lenfest, is pitching a new video server that purports to provide IP origination for up to 20 LO, LA and PEG channels at the same time. Known as the B1000 HyperCaster IP Broadcast Server, the one-rack-unit server supports both MPEG-2 and H.264 video files in standard-definition and HD formats. TelVue officials say the server eliminates the need for costly real-time video encoders and playout systems, slashing equipment costs by up to 75 percent.
As a result, cable operators can upgrade their LO, LA and PEG channels to IP delivery and HD quality much more easily. TelVue executives say several cable systems are already looking to bring their LO channels up to high-def, starting with a Cox Communications Inc. system in Oklahoma.
"In 2012, I think we'll start to see some PEG channels go HD as well," says Jesse Lerman, president and CEO of TelVue. He noted that most PEG channels "would love to be HD" because they already shoot and edit all of their content in high-def.
Mount Laurel, N.J.-based TelVue is also promoting a new cloud-based service that can be integrated with the HyperCaster server. Called TelVue Connect, this service leverages the cloud to upload large media files, perform video transcoding, and handle content management, content delivery and channel scheduling. TelVue officials say the service enables cable operators to outsource all of their LO, LA and PEG content ingest and management functions to the cloud, allowing them to streamline their operations and cut costs much further.
TelVue officials add that they're talking to cable operators about trying out the cloud-based service for LO, LA and video-on-demand applications. "We expect to be in beta tests with MSOs before the end of the year," Lerman says. [Ed. note: Better get crackin'!]
In its favor, TelVue does have a little experience in this area. The company now provides equipment and support for the LO and LA channels of eight of the top 10 U.S. MSOs and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). The company's systems also power more than 1,000 PEG channels and deliver local programming to more than 1 million college students across the nation. In total, its powered TV channels pass more than 30 million U.S. households.
The big question is whether TelVue is ahead of its time. Are cable operators ready to make the IP video jump with their lowly local channels yet? Or will they wait until they've switched over their main programming lineups to IP technology first?
The answers to these questions aren't known yet. But it should be fun seeing how things develop in the new year.
— Alan Breznick, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading