AT&T moved to expand its content distribution efforts Tuesday with the initiation of trials of streaming capabilities
for its Internet-based content distribution network. The company also unveiled plans for monitoring and management services for
distribution of broadcast video and rich media content.
AT&T is aiming the network at media and entertainment companies looking to deliver pay-per-view and subscription-based Web services
to Internet users. It is also hoping to capture a broader range of businesses by offering the ability to deliver corporate video
messages, such as updates on benefits packages and training videos.
The company plans to base the service on its Intelligent Content Distribution Service and broadcast-capable IP backbone. It will
utilize AT&T Broadband’s Digital Media Center — which provides content acquisition, encoding, storage and “centralcasting”
services — in the trials, which are testing the system’s ability to allow content owners to repurpose and enhance their content and
then offer it through the Internet on a pay-per-view basis.
For instance, a content owner could take a sporting event or live event scheduled for a specific time and date and then allow
Internet users to register and pay in advance. They could then view the event at the scheduled air time. Another option would be to
host the content and then allow pay-per-view subscribers to view the Web cast at a time of their choosing, rather than on a
predetermined broadcast schedule.
“AT&T has been there every step of the way as the network needs of broadcasters has evolved from simple transmission to today’s
advanced network monitoring and management,” said Robin Young, senior vice president of AT&T Business Managed Services. “These new
capabilities will help the media industry transform itself as the growth of the Internet compels entertainment companies to
re-evaluate their network capabilities and their content distribution models.”
AT&T is also looking to help provide media companies with centralized management of their distribution networks. To this end, the
company unveiled its Media Network Operations Center (NOC), which provides broadcasting companies real-time, end-to-end proactive
network monitoring and management of broadcast video and rich content over AT&T’s ATM network. The facility monitors a broadcast
signal from the moment it leaves a content owner’s premises, travels through encoding at the AT&T Local Network Services loop, is
sent through the AT&T ATM network, and is decoded on the recipient’s end.
The company said it has invested millions of dollars in the NOC since 2001, and plans to extend its network management capabilities
to IP services and non-media companies in 2002. AT&T is working with Tribune Broadcasting to design, develop and test the NOC.
The NOC is likely to bring AT&T into competition with Akamai, the reigning monarch of the space. Akamai Tuesday
announced a new customer in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which implemented Akamai’s EdgeSuite in September 2001 in
order to improve its overall site performance and ensure effective delivery of content on its site.
EdgeSuite allows the FBI.gov site to respond to unexpected increases in site traffic by off-loading the delivery of the site to
Akamai’s distributed edge computing platform.