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Level 3 Jumps Into Streaming

Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) announced today that it is enabling streaming services across its content delivery network (CDN), and has added a strategic partner in Move Networks Inc. to deliver high-definition (HD) video content over the Web. (See Level 3 Adds Streaming, Move.)

With the announcement, Level 3 is letting customers offer both live and on-demand streaming services across a range of formats, including Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows Media, Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) Flash, RealNetworks Inc. (Nasdaq: RNWK) RealPlayer, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) QuickTime, and Move Media Player.

Streaming video will follow the same cost structure that Level 3 has announced for its other content delivery services. In October, the company announced it would go to market with cache and download pricing that matches its pricing for high-speed Internet transport. (See Level 3 Slashes CDN Prices.)

As a result, customers will pay the same price for content transfered, whether it's through high-speed Internet transport, cache and download, or streaming video. This allows customers to "buy three discrete services, but enjoy the same price for all of them," says Grant van Rooyen, Level 3 senior vice president of content markets.

There are exceptions, though, for Flash or Move technology, both of which carry license fees that Level 3 says it will pass on to its customers.

The addition of streaming services is part of Level 3's continued push into the CDN market. Earlier this year, the company got into the business by buying CDN assets from Savvis (Nasdaq: SVVS), bringing cache and download services to Level 3. (See Level 3 Completes Buy and Level 3 Enhances Platform.)

The company expanded further by acquiring Dublin-based streaming video provider ServeCast in August. (See Level 3 Expands CDN and Level 3 Buys Servecast.)

In the first quarter of next year, Level 3 plans to deploy ServeCast technology to allow end-to-end video asset management, including encoding, digital rights management (DRM), and the ability to manage and monetize content in-brand.

Level 3 also announced a strategic partnership with Move Networks today, for the distribution of HD video services. The partnership includes a reseller agreement to distribute Move's Media Services and to integrate Move's technology into Level 3's CDN infrastructure.

Van Rooyen says the partnership includes a significant technology-sharing and collaboration agreement. However, he pointed out that the Move partnership was not exclusive on either side.

"It's not in Level 3's philosophy to bet long term on any one technology," van Rooyen says. "We support Windows Media, Flash, Move, and others. We want to be a platform that can embrace all of those technologies, but we're interested to see which ones end users flock to."

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

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