BigBand to bring on-demand video to any device

As viewers demand their video programming anywhere, any time and on any device, the technical challenges for traditional broadcast networks have increased significantly. How does a broadcaster cope in a changed world where unicasting is a major trend?

BigBand Networks, a Redwood City, CA-based provider of switched-digital video technology to cable operators, is seeking to provide infrastructure owners with a smooth and affordable migration from broadcast video to 1:1 personalized video, or unicast. The trick, as BigBand sees it, is to employ digital signal processing to leverage existing cable infrastructures into the future without starting over from scratch.

By consolidating cable headends, BigBand can support digital video transport over any distance on the same platform. It provides management software to configure and monitor a network of platforms, including linear program channels, video-on-demand content and broadband video.

The company’s Converged Video Exchange (CVEx), to be available this fall, is a software-based video control plane that provides convergence between different video applications, RF and IP transports, and end-user screens. The software was designed to provide a unified means to deliver and manage linear and nonlinear video services across a network to both traditional MPEG set-top boxes and IP devices, including PCs and mobile devices.

The single control plane attempts to eliminate dedicated bandwidth silos for individual services such as video-on-demand, switched digital video and IPTV, while simultaneously improving spectrum usage. The technology provides cable operators with a realistic migration path to IPTV, personalized video and beyond that can be deployed immediately.

In a converged video environment, a unified control plane will result in high transaction rates with fast response times required for both multicast and unicast session requests. With current clients, the company executes billions of real-time transactions per year to more than 24 million households.

“Transitioning to next-generation networks capable of seamless video delivery to multiple networks opens up tremendous complexity,” said David W. Heard, BigBand’s COO. “By unifying the video through our intelligent software control plane, CVEx can help transform today’s architecture into a true converged video solution delivered to any device so that in the future, it won’t matter if it is wired or wireless, legacy or next-generation IP.”

The CVEx platform allows for bandwidth to be pooled and reallocated on an as needed basis. It also provides subscriber and video service measurement tools that cross multiple data planes with holistic views of program and service behaviors, network resource usage and “what if” scenario planning.

CVEx only works with video services and does not affect applications such as e-mail, Web browsing or voice-over-IP. It basically combines all available bandwidth into a shared pool. When a user makes a request, CVEx — within a fraction of a second — uses the resources needed to meet that request.

The technology will be sold on a success-based model, with the price dependent on how many applications and how many set-top or IP clients it is being used to manage.

In addition, CVEx is well suited to concepts like TV Everywhere, a cable-to-Internet concept being tested by Time Warner and Comcast. The software includes the reporting tools that allow advertisers to verify their content is being watched and supports advanced advertising applications.