Video services

Concurrent Swells VOD Streaming Capacity

Concurrent Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: CCUR) says a new software release for its flagship video server platform boosts streaming capacity by 40 percent and supports features linked to the on-demand architectures of two major MSOs: Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK). (See Concurrent Upgrades VOD Software.)

The Duluth, Ga.-based video-on-demand (VOD) supplier says the upgrade increases the output for the MediaHawk 4500 to 2,300 streams, a 40 percent gain over the capability of the product's initial release in January 2007. Those figures apply to standard-definition streams, which, according to CableLabs specs, are delivered at a constant bit rate of 3.75 Mbit/s.

The established "safe harbor" bit rate for high-definition VOD is 15 Mbit/s, meaning the MediaHawk 4500 could pump out 575 streams if the server was configured to handle only HD traffic. Companies such as BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND), Imagine Communications , and RGB Networks Inc. are developing variable bit rate (VBR) VOD systems that aim to increase bandwidth efficiency by as much as 50 percent. (See RGB Takes Aim at Imagine and Imagine, Tandberg Hook Up.)

Concurrent's new software release, offered in all new MediaHawk 4500 shipments, is also designed to support additional features of NGOD (Next Generation On Demand), a set of specs that are tied to Comcast's new platform. The MediaHawk 4500 also complies with Time Warner Cable's ISA (Interactive Services Architecture). In addition to scaling ingest, streaming,and storage separately, the MH4500 can also work in conjunction with Concurrent's recently launched Flash-centric server, the MediaCache 1000. (See Concurrent Bows Flash Gear and A Flashy Approach to VOD.)

Concurrent said the update was necessary to meet increased streaming density requirements, brought on in part by new streaming-intensive services such as "Start Over," an app championed by Time Warner Cable that allows viewers to restart select shows already in progress.

Concurrent and Bright House recently hooked up in Tampa Bay, Fla., for what's considered the largest deployment of Start Over, with more than 23,000 dedicated streams. (See Bright House Starts Over in Tampa .) Comcast is also expected to introduce a version of Start Over in early 2009. (See Comcast Feels Like Starting Over .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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