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A handful of promising startups get a shot to explain how their respective technologies and services will benefit cable MSOs
April 6, 2009
WASHINGTON -- The Cable Show -- Hi-def wireless networking technology, “t-commerce” applications, and targeted advertising systems that link spots to consumer purchasing data headlined a cable “innovations” panel here last week.
Top strategy and engineering executives put a handful of emerging tech vendors on the hot seat, grilling them about the viability of their respective technologies services and how they might benefit cable MSOs.
Among them was Cherry Hill, N.J.-based iCueTV Inc. , a newcomer that has developed a TV-based commerce platform that lets cable operators deliver revenue-driving interactive applications based on Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) and the more advanced tru2way platform. (See CMC Validates iCueTV.)
iCueTV uses a distributed, core backend system that leverages industry standard e-wallet applications developed by PayPal, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) for purchases via the TV.
iCueTV president and CTO Mike Huegel claimed his company’s service requires no initial capex from MSOs, and that operators can be up and running quickly with a turnkey, self-branded portal that can reside at either at the primary headend or elsewhere on the cable network. iCueTV handles all the backend fulfillment requirements and partners with other entities such as Amazon for physical fulfillment.
John LeMoncheck, president and CEO of SiBeam Inc. , presented his company’s vision for the wireless living room using unlicensed spectrum in the 60 GHz unlicensed frequency band and standard digital CMOS millimeter wave semiconductors. SiBeam’s chipsets incorporate advanced, phased array antenna technology that lets consumers wirelessly stream uncompressed 1080p high-definition video, audio, and data at multi-gigabit data rates for in-room media connectivity.
Wireless HD video streaming has been constrained by the bandwidth limitations of current home-networking technologies, but SiBeam claims its non-line-of-sight technology steers a beam around the room, able to find alternative paths for continuous content streaming.
When pressed by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)’s EVP of strategic planning Mark Coblitz about chipset price points, Moncheck said SiBeam’s CMOS technology is integrated into small devices, so they can add this level of functionality at prices not significantly more than HDMI cables.
SiBeam will also sell standard adapters/wireless dongles for legacy devices, but its goal is to be integrated directly into the CE devices. The company is also working closely with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) to develop a standard for interference detection and avoidance in order to manage any interference issues for operating in an unlicensed band.
Mark Lieberman, CEO of New York-based TRA Inc., demonstrated targeted advertising that matches advertising with products consumers actually buy.
TRA differentiates itself by using a fact-based data gathered from media viewing of 1.5 million DVR households. This gives them visibility into who is jumping in and out of advertisements and even who viewed ads from start to finish. The data is then matched to supermarket data sets from customers with frequent shopper cards at eight supermarket chains across the country.
TRA can then run ROI reports to see if those households exposed to ads actually bought the products. Their advertising data is based on “preferred purchase behavior” rather than sex and age demographics, providing a level of granularity that never existed before. “We close the loop by tying into purchase behaviors,” said Lieberman said. That way, advertisers can allocate ad dollars to most effective use by targeting “swing purchasers,” he added.
TRA is starting with grocery data, but also plans to expand into purchasing behavior data from pharmacies, consumer electronics databases, and financial services companies.
Verivue Inc. presented its vision for managed video-on-demand (VoD) networks with a transport and media storage combo that merges traditional video “push” distribution model with Internet video “pull” model that will help to break the boundary between TV and online content access. The company’s MDX 9000 media distribution switch technology combines network transport with media storage and multi-protocol streaming. (See Verivue Surfaces With Comcast Backing .)
Based on a blade server design, Verivue’s Flash-centric technology combines servers, storage networking, and applications in one platform, an approach that will enable operators to pull content from Internet and traditional sources and deliver to it multiple screens and device formats.
While Verivue is compatible with existing cable networks, operator panelists were naturally skeptical about having to “forklift” the existing legacy video-on-demand (VoD) systems in which they are so heavily invested.
In the business services category, Kelly Herrell, president and CEO of Vyatta Inc. , presented his company’s approach to an “open networking” system that uses open-source hardware and software technologies to reduce the cost and improve the performance of service provider’s networks. Vyatta positions against networking giant Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and uses a combination of standard x86-based processors, multi-core technologies and software drawn from open source code and communities.
Vyatta’s key investors include Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and J.P. Morgan. According to Herrell, the company just signed up a Tier 1 international carrier for business services and is targeting cable’s growing business services market. (See Comcast Invests in Vyatta.)
— Patti A. Reali, Special to Cable Digital News
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