BigBand Creates IP-Focused Delivery Platform

MSP2000 product will support personalized video, addressable ads.

Video-processing firm BigBand Networks, which supplies switched-digital-video systems and other transmission gear to large cable and telco operators like Cablevision Systems and Verizon Communications, is introducing a new Internet-protocol-based delivery platform Tuesday that seeks to leverage existing switched-digital gear to provide more personalized video services to consumers.

Redwood City, Calif.-based BigBand was an early leader in SDV, which saves bandwidth across cable and telco plants by delivering less-popular linear channels in an on-demand fashion to individual subscribers who request them, instead of “broadcasting” them to all of the subscribers connected to the network.

The company’s new BigBand Media Services Platform MSP2000 is aimed at its existing cable and telco customers and is designed to use SDV technology to deliver personalized video services including IPTV, addressable advertising, higher-quality multichannel HD and new interactive services.

The MSP2000 product is currently in trials with major operators in North America, Europe and Asia, said Paul Crann, vice president of media-services platforms for BigBand, and it will be deployed commercially early next year.

It runs on a hardware chassis similar to BigBand’s popular Broadband Multimedia-Services Router (BMR) video-splicing and transrating solution. It starts at around $50,000 in its smallest configuration but is intended to scale up to much larger systems, and it can work with QAM-based (quadrature amplitude modulation) MPEG-2 cable plants, as well as new telco IPTV architectures that rely on advanced H.264 compression.

“Originally, [SDV] was deployed to recover capacity to deliver more channels and do more HD,” Crann said. “But once you’ve deployed switched, you’ve got a natural infrastructure to get more personalized applications.”

One of those applications could be delivering personalized ads to individual subscribers. Truly addressable ads have long been touted as a huge potential benefit of cable’s two-way platform, but it is only in the past few years that firms like Navic Networks (recently bought by Microsoft) and Visible World have started to deliver that functionality.

Earlier this year, major cable operators pledged to create a national platform for delivering such targeted ads, including the back-office infrastructure, through a joint venture called Canoe Ventures. But that effort is still in its very early stages.

According to Crann, the technology within the MSP2000 would be complementary, not in conflict, with whatever addressable-advertising schemes are eventually championed by Canoe.

“What Canoe is for us is a great validation of the need for this type of platform,” he added. “When we started on the MSP2000, Canoe didn’t exist. But ultimately, for Canoe to be successful, there has to be that type of capability that exists in the network.”