Altnet Rewinds to VoD Downloads
Axtel isn't the biggest, or most famous, of carriers (744,000 customers generating quarterly revenues of around US$220 million). But if its VoD offering is successful, it would suggest that downloading -- which, to some, sounds like a step backwards from streaming -- is a pragmatic way to deliver video without hogging a network's scarce bandwidth, whether over a fixed or wireless connection.
Opanga isn't confirming Axtel's plans. But considering the carrier invested in Opanga, you'd assume Axtel is hoping to deploy its software at some point. One source familiar with the schedule says Axtel intends to launch a service possibly this month and definitely before year's end.
Opanga laid low for four years before debuting its mobile product at last month's CTIA Enterprise & Applications event. Its NetRover Mobile software detects available bandwidth on the network and adjusts video downloading speeds accordingly. This way, a download doesn't hog all available bandwidth. (See CTIA 2010: Startup Pitches Mobile Streaming Alternative .)
Axtel would be using a different product: NetRover VoD, which extends the concept to full-length movies, adding necessary functions such as digital rights management (DRM) and billing.
The problem Opanga will likely encounter is that some parties are extremely wedded to the idea of streaming video, says Colin Dixon, an analyst with The Diffusion Group (TDG) .
"Content providers don't want people downloading video," even in the presence of digital rights management (DRM) and other safeguards, Dixon says. "They're much happier with it being streamed."
Part of what makes Opanga interesting is its background. The company's founders are wireless-industry veterans, including former AT&T Wireless CTO Dave Gibbons, who noticed that operators were trying to find ways to exploit the mobile network's unused bandwidth.
"We learned, throughout our careers, that as much as we fight to meet demand at these peak moments, we also have a tremendous amount of excess capacity," he says.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading