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RAI.IT works with Microsoft, Inlet Technologies and Level 3 Communications to offer live Web broadcasts of Italian soccer team matches during the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 in HDTV quality

RAI.IT, the internet company of RAI, the Italian broadcast host of FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, in cooperation with Microsoft Corp., Inlet Technologies and Level 3 Communications, is pleased to offer exclusively on and free, live Web broadcasting in high definition television (HDTV) quality (720p+) of the Italian soccer team matches during the tournament.

For the Italian team matches, RAI.IT is offering the same high-definition streams broadcast on TV to Web users on the RAI Web sites, thanks to Microsoft Internet Information Services 7.0 (IIS7) Live Smooth Streaming and Microsoft Silverlight technologies. IIS7 Smooth Streaming is an HTTP-based adaptive streaming technology that delivers the highest quality, reliable online video experience. By utilizing standards-based HTTP to take advantage of massive existing HTTP caching resources, IIS7 Smooth Streaming takes advantage of the scale of HTTP to provide true HDTV (720p+) experiences to Silverlight-based media players.

IIS7 Smooth Streaming uses the standard HTTP protocol for easy connection to video streams, even through firewalls, as if they were just part of a Web page. Video streams can also be cached in existing servers on Level 3’s global Content Delivery Network to allow a massive diffusion of the service on the Internet. This is all monitored from the Level 3 Broadcast Operations Centre. Thanks to the successful technological collaboration between Level 3, Inlet Technologies and Microsoft, this live streaming broadcast has been made possible. The same group of companies recently deployed this technology for France Télévisions’ live HD webcast of the Roland Garros tennis tournament.

The Confederations Cup simulcasts are encoded by Inlet Technologies’ SpinnakerTM 7000 live streaming appliances. Inlet is the first encoding technology provider to support Microsoft IIS7 Smooth Streaming technology for live streaming and video-on-demand applications. The event will demonstrate the HDTV-quality of IIS7 Smooth Streaming, through several optimized streams generated by Spinnaker 7000 HD encoders. Viewers will be able to watch live HD video, plus enjoy DVR-like capabilities, of premier soccer action with no stuttering, buffering or other interruptions to their viewing experience.

For viewers who cannot receive full HD quality due to limited Internet connections, the Silverlight application is capable of dynamically detecting what CDN Level 3 quality levels are available and can switch transparently between them without any breaks or stutters. Silverlight can also modulate the quality of the stream according to the condition of the client computer. This means Web users who have broadband connections can enjoy 720p+ HD images, while users with low‐rate connections or less powerful computers receive the quality optimized for their connection.

“Technological collaboration with Microsoft, Inlet Technologies and for this case, RAI, continues to deliver a high quality and live online video experience,” said Rob Houghton, vice president, European Content Services at Level 3 Communications. “Delivering the quality and scale demanded by our customers while offering services with a wide range of media player solutions, is important to Level3. Our collaboration with Microsoft to showcase IIS7 Live Smooth Streaming technology gives end users a true HDTV online video experience,” said Houghton. “With a long standing reputation for being a leader and early adopter of new technology, Level 3 is delighted to be supporting this event and technical demonstration.”

“Thanks to the collaboration with RAI.IT, we once again demonstrate that Microsoft technologies such as IIS7 Live Smooth Streaming and Silverlight can provide great and innovative experiences to end users,” said Anders Nilsson, director of developer & platform evangelism for Microsoft Italy. “Beyond the higher quality of the service, users can enjoy instant replay whenever they want, switching between what’s going live and what happened earlier in the same match, or other innovative features that will be implemented by RAI in future release of the player. Level 3’s early support for IIS7 Live Smooth Streaming in its CDN has made this happen on the large scale that a football match involving the Italian team really requires. It has been a pleasure partnering with RAI.IT, Level 3 and Inlet Technologies.”

“Inlet is pleased to once again work with our partners to bring a top quality viewing experience to sports fans,” said Neal Page, Inlet’s CEO. “Being at the forefront of major new media innovations such as Smooth Streaming is an important part of what we do, and it’s an honor to be able to showcase these capabilities at major sporting events around the globe.”

About Level 3 Communications

Level 3 Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: LVLT) is a leading international provider of fiber-based communications services. Level 3 services are provided by wholly-owned subsidiaries of Level 3 Communications, Inc. Enterprise, content, wholesale and government customers rely on Level 3 to deliver services with an industry-leading combination of scalability and value over an end-to-end fiber network. Level 3 offers a portfolio of metro and long-haul services, including transport, data, Internet, content delivery and voice. For more information, visit Hannah Britt, / +44 207 954 2128

About Inlet Technologies

Inlet Technologies is the leading provider of advanced encoding solutions, enabling new media for new networks. Inlet’s solutions produce the highest quality video, faster and more efficiently than any other, allowing content creators, programmers and distributors to increase efficiency, reduce costs and deliver superior quality video over any IP network. Inlet solutions are ideal for applications such as real-time professional streaming, Blu-ray encoding, Video-on-Demand, Web-based video, digital archiving and dailies. Inlet customers, such as, Modern Video and Microsoft, are able to expand their audiences and create new revenue from their valuable content. For more information, visit