The Smart-Pipe Solution
By David Woodle -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/18/2005 7:00:00 PM
Rapid advances in broadband Internet connections, digital video recorders, personal mobile devices and other technologies are challenging the media industry's traditional advertising and distribution models and turning the television world on its head.
Witness today's mixed landscape of on-demand video with the proliferation of new business models, such as the AOL/Warner Bros. launch of In2TV, a peer-to-peer online TV network.
Aside from the question of whether a subscription-based or ad-supported model will prevail, it is clear that content owners are tapping into new Internet Protocol-based technologies to actively seek more-direct contact with consumers, bypassing the cable operators and raising the specter of networks' becoming a commoditized dumb pipe.
This perception, however, does not tell the full story. With new intelligence-based technology focused on service control and awareness, cable operators are, in fact, in the position to be a key player in video-on-demand, offering value to content owners, advertisers and consumers beyond simple IP transport. New advances in such areas as CableLabs' PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM) and emerging standards like IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), combined with intelligent IP networking, all enable cable operators to create value that moves them beyond simply selling commodity bandwidth.
As owners of the infrastructure, the operators can leverage these technologies to ensure that content is delivered with a quality of service that is necessary for consumer support. The cable operator also can monitor ad delivery and response and offer targeted advertising, both of which are critical to the success of ad-supported content.
Cable operators play a particularly pivotal role in allocating and prioritizing bandwidth, thus ensuring timely delivery of content or advertising. Content providers and advertisers do not have this capability. Equally important, operators bring the quality of service guarantees that content providers and advertisers need in order to provide a quality viewing experience for the consumer in an IP world.
As further added value, operators can use network-management technology to proactively monitor the health of the network infrastructure. That ensures that customers always have access to their desired online content when they want it.
Cable operators may also provide value by enabling advanced billing options like usage-based, prepaid, pay-per-use and On Demand, giving subscribers flexibility in configuring their service experience.
Ultimately, cable operators, content providers and advertisers will be successful in the on-demand marketplace only if they collaborate in using innovative technology to enhance the consumer's experience. With their “smart” pipe, cable operators will have an essential role in making this happen.
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