Video services

EchoStar Sets Sights on a Network DVR

NEW ORLEANS -- Cloud Services Summit -- EchoStar Corp. LLC (Nasdaq: SATS) is developing a network-based DVR that will be delivered to its first customer by the end of the year, an exec said Tuesday here at an event that's collocated with the TelcoTV show.

EchoStar is working on an nDVR that closely mimics the type of product Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) has deployed (and has the legal clearance to deploy) in parts of New York and Connecticut, EchoStar Chief Product Officer John Paul said on a panel dedicated to delivering video via the cloud.

That means EchoStar's system will be built to store the individual programs a given customer sets to record, and won't back up that data. So if a hard drive fails, all of the recorded content on that drive goes poof. "We have to replicate the [Cablevision] model because of the ruling," Paul said, in reference to DVR Plus, the name of Cablevision's new court-approved remote-storage DVR (and 2011 Leading Lights finalist). (See Cablevision's Network DVR Debuts in the Bronx , DoJ: Butt Out of Cablevision RS-DVR Case and Leading Lights Finalists: Best New Service or Application (Cable) .)

Paul told Light Reading Cable in a follow-up conversation that EchoStar doesn't intend to create one massive, centralize storage facility, but will instead look to put storage on the network "as close to the end user as you can ... probably in the city in which the customer lives." That content delivery network (CDN) approach, plus the adoption of adaptive bit rate techniques, will offer significant bandwidth cost savings, he stressed. [Ed. note: EchoStar bought adaptive bit rate pioneer Move Networks Inc. in early 2011.] (See EchoStar Buys Move Networks.)

To create even more favorable economics, EchoStar will employ inexpensive storage drives and has looked at single appliances that can support as many as 5,000 customers.

Although engineers "just hate" the idea of having to create a system that stores individual copies because it's less efficient than delivering multiple streams from one piece of content, Dish thinks its idea will scale and be economical.

"If you run the numbers [on a network DVR] versus putting [storage] in the home, it works. But most people don't run those numbers," Paul said.

Paul says EchoStar is on target to deliver its nDVR product to its first customer by the end of 2011. He isn't revealing that customer, but, historically speaking, corporate cousin Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) has gotten first dibs on new products that have come out of the technology spinoff, which has also developed a line of set-tops that bake in Sling Media Inc. 's place-shifting technology. EchoStar also sells its wares to telcos and cable operators. (See EchoStar Arms Tier 2 MSOs for War .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

AESerm 12/5/2012 | 4:50:30 PM
re: EchoStar Sets Sights on a Network DVR

Aren't there ways of recording a single copy of a digital asset so that it's not stuck on a single drive, thus preventing the 'poof' disappear scenario if one drive fails?

AESerm 12/5/2012 | 4:50:28 PM
re: EchoStar Sets Sights on a Network DVR

OK, but still I think there are ways to record ('stripe') one copy per household across multiple drives so that if one fails, you only lose a fraction of the asset. So it remains 1:1 (asset:sub) as per the ruling, not 1:n (which, yes, would be much more efficient.)

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:50:28 PM
re: EchoStar Sets Sights on a Network DVR

Sure, that's techincally an easy thing to do, but if EchoStar is going to adhere to the rules that govern traditional, local  DVRs, it has to operate it like this... Definitely not as efficient, for sure, but it has to adhere to the guidelines of the Sony Betamax case, so they have to map one copy of a program to one household.   JB


Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:50:25 PM
re: EchoStar Sets Sights on a Network DVR

I got my years mixed up originally and said delivery of the product would be by end of 2012...it's actually by the end of 2011 .(it's been fixed in the story). so this puppy is very far along. JB

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:50:25 PM
re: EchoStar Sets Sights on a Network DVR

yeah, that idea came up on the TiVo Lover's blog, which wondered if the use of RAID would help.  I didn't mention this in the story, but the gentleman from EchoStar said they probably would not be going in that direction for this product. JB



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