Optical/IP Networks

BitGravity Counts on HD

BitGravity founder and CEO Perry Wu is taking on the content delivery network (CDN) market, saying high-definition (HD) video is what's going to separate his company from rivals.

Wu, who left venture firm ComVentures last year to singlehandedly fund BitGravity, says his company's secret lies in proprietary streaming and caching software, allowing quick delivery of large video streams. And the technology had better be good if the company is to succeed, because Wu says BitGravity doesn't intend to compete on price.

"Our architecture is different than everybody else's," Wu says. "Our time to deliver the first packet is faster than our competition, and our throughput is much higher, so we can deliver things like hi-def."

Consequently, Wu claims, BitGravity will deliver HD video to the PC with very little delay and with no interruptions. Using a five-minute video as a demo (BitGravity isn't distributing HD video just yet), Wu shows the network launching an HD video after just a few milliseconds of buffering. From there, it's possible to jump ahead or back within the video using a slider, again with playback beginning after a very brief delay, without pixelization.

Few media companies outside the porn industry deliver HD video via the public Internet, says Bob Rizika, CEO of the streaming server startup Blackwave Inc. The high delivery costs often outweigh any earnings from selling the video, he says. Still, a few services, like Amazon Unbox and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Xbox Live, have begun offering HD movies. (See Microsoft to Sell VOD on XBox.)

Wu says HD is important because the success of video on the Internet depends on comparisons to TV: "If TV can do HD, the Internet better be able to do HD; if TV can do instant channel change, the Internet better be able to do instant channel change."

Wu says the company has snared several customers (he won't name names) since last May and is in talks with some very large media firms.

BitGravity will compete with CDN market leader Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM) and contenders including Limelight Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: LLNW), Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT), and Internap Network Services Corp. (Nasdaq: INAP). (See Akamai Shows No Jitter in Q4, How Likely Is a Limelight IPO?, Internap Charges Into CDNs, and Level 3's CDN Story Rides on Fiber.)

Those names aren't necessarily strangers to HD. "We are working, and have worked, with a variety of customers to deliver HD video including NHL games in partnership with Comcast, the State of the Union Address (working with Gannett as a customer), and Instant Media, to name a few," an Akamai spokesman says.

Limelight announced in 2005 it would be the CDN for Microsoft's Xbox Live service, but it remains unclear whether Xbox Live HD movies are being delivered over the Limelight network. Limelight didn't return calls for this story.

Wu won't specify how many employees work in BitGravity's Burlingame, Calif., offices, saying only that it's fewer than 50.

BitGravity has network access points (NAPs) in North America, South America, and Europe, with agreements with numerous long-haul carriers to move its clients' data out to those servers as quickly as possible. BitGravity lacks a NAP in Asia, but the setup provides good performance there, Wu claims.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:13:07 PM
re: BitGravity Counts on HD Interesting company. re: "Using a five-minute video as a demo (BitGravity isn't distributing HD video just yet), Wu shows the network launching an HD video after just a few milliseconds of buffering."

If they weren't distributing HD content, how were you watching an HD video?
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:13:06 PM
re: BitGravity Counts on HD However, if BitGravity is even half real, it shows how the innovation of the open internet runs circles around closed IP-TV architectures, and dooms them to a profitless death. Who would pay up for a closed IP-TV service if they can get more innovative fare over the Internet?
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:13:06 PM
re: BitGravity Counts on HD
A demo on a LAN would work just fine. That would explain the no latency and the no service yet.

Alpine 12/5/2012 | 3:13:05 PM
re: BitGravity Counts on HD Have they solved the last mile problem too or are they re-defining the definition of HD? The encode rate on a HD-DVD is 36 mb/sec - how many people have that kind of bandwidth? Most people can't even handle true DVD quality which is in the range of 5-10mb/sec using VBR encoding.

Sounds to me that the answer we'll deliver it when customers ask for it is flat our marketing spin. There are a ton of content onwers who'd trip over themselves rushing to the vendors who could deliver HD quality streams - bandwidth costs or not.

2thchance 12/5/2012 | 3:13:05 PM
re: BitGravity Counts on HD
I went to NAB 2006 and saw a company claiming to be able to deliver HD over IP. I think their name was
Stream onix Ltd.? I still have a business card, just in case.

Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:13:05 PM
re: BitGravity Counts on HD The HD video Wu streamed to me was strictly for demo purposes. It wasn't accessed from a BitGravity customer site, but rather from a BitGravity server. Wu says BitGravity customers haven't yet asked it to deliver HD video but he thinks they will soon.
Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:13:04 PM
re: BitGravity Counts on HD On the money Alpine. Mark, I think Wu hoodwinked you with a slick rigged demo. Gee, even Gates can do those although I have been a few that have gone blue screen on him.
heritagejd 12/5/2012 | 3:13:04 PM
re: BitGravity Counts on HD Honestly, Bill also said most household's in the country would only need approx. 760kbs total!
heritagejd 12/5/2012 | 3:13:04 PM
re: BitGravity Counts on HD Actually the "Last Mile Solution" was solved in 1998! Khamsin, with a DWDM LN, Annular Conductor, Residential Gateway can provide scalable bandwidth to each subscriber, 10mbs-622mbs, symmetrically, with four(4) streaming HD-TV channels. The system can provide 16,32,48+(increments 16), powered by 3.5v DC, total IP full pulse code digital transmission, not shared! The elagance of the technology is it's simplicty.
Alpine 12/5/2012 | 3:13:04 PM
re: BitGravity Counts on HD Just to check I just viewed a 1080i HD clip via a download. It was thirty seconds of content and the file size was 59 megabytes. Try streaming 30 minutes at that quality level with no jitter, latency or buffering.
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