LongBoard Hops Video Roaming Wave
The product is in carrier trials now and may be generally available as soon as the third quarter of this year.
The new product, called "MediaRoam," allows a video stream to start on a wired network and hand over to a wireless network without interupting the content. The company has already been selling something similar, its OnePhone software product, for dualmode voice applications. (See LongBoard Pushes IMS.)
But in the video world, the stakes are higher. A subscriber using services running across MediaRoam will, LongBoard says, be able to begin watching the news at home and continue watching the broadcast as he gets in his car and drives across town. [Ed. not: Great idea. Thanks.] The video signal is served from a home WiFi network until the subscriber is out of range; the stream then commences being served from the wireless network. The user is unaware of the transition.
LongBoard says MediaRoam enables delivery of video across GSM, GPRS, CDMA, UMTS, and WiFi (802.11) access networks.
In addition to providing a slick mobile video service, LongBoard COO Paul Murphy says, the new product has other benefits. “It’s also a way of managing the network resources for that particular session, and it’s a way to make sure that those resources are optimized for whatever device you happen to be using and whatever network you happen to be on,” he says.
MediaRoam adapts video streams in real time according to the network type that is delivering it. For example, MediaRoam might adapt a streaming video to a higher quality form of video compression (codec) when a subscriber moves from a GSM network to a WiFi network, Murphy says. (See IMS: Simplify First, Add Apps Later.)
Murphy adds that MediaRoam contains a policy server element that allows carriers to offer various service tiers based on access to optimal network resources.
“We manage the roaming to the best available network resources in terms of bandwidth, in terms of signal strength, and in terms of congestion.” The video sessions of subscribers with “platinum” level service have the most flexibility to find the best network and the highest amount of bandwidth.
The company says its video session management server will also be useful in more advanced IMS-based services like video sharing.
LongBoard marketing VP Rob Fuggetta says his company is now engaged with a Tier 1 carrier in Europe that plans to trial MediaRoam starting in the third quarter of this year. The carrier will also trial LongBoard's dualmode telephony service, Fuggetta says.
Dualmode phone service is seen by some as the first "killer application" made possible by the adoption of IMS networks. But the appeal of the dualmode idea applied to video may not be realized in some markets for quite some time. (See Lucent Having Dualmode Difficulty?.)
Murphy says that while the U.S. has not yet warmed to the idea of mobile video, European and Asia/Pacific subscribers are already getting used to the service. Carriers in those markets, he says, will gradually invest in IMS products that make video service more flexible and reliable.
LongBoard is a privately held company, backed by Enterprise Partners Venture Capital , Storm Ventures , InterWest Partners , and CrossBridge Venture Partners . The company was founded in 1999.
— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading