One message is coming through with HD clarity these days: The cable industry has a video fight on its hands, and it’s not just the satellite providers who are putting on the gloves. Multiple competitors have been nibbling around the edges of cable’s previous video fabric like mice in a cat-less farmhouse, and the threadbare condition of what was once an all-encompassing moneymaking business is becoming obvious to even the most oblivious observers.

Camiant wants to be the exterminator that chases the mice away by moving its network management technology from IP to video and partnering with QAM manufacturers like Harmonic, Arris, BigBand Networks, Ericsson’s Tandberg TV group and Motorola to get a better handle on what’s happening at the network edge.

"Video is a tremendous bandwidth consumer, so the need for control at the edge is important," said Ed Delaney, executive vice president of marketing and business development at Camiant.

Additionally, and not surprisingly, Camiant has partnered on the video-on-demand side to build an integrated QoS solution with SeaChange International. The two claim, in news release-speak, that they have a "major broadband operator in North America" deploying their gear, but we’ll have to take their word for it since major broadband operators admit what they’re doing about as often as the Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl. New VOD focus "It does appear that there’s a new focus on video on demand, and I do think that’s because of the advanced technologies that are coming down the pike," said Marianne Rocco, director of business development and partner alliances at SeaChange, probably unaware SeaChange has been espousing a similar storyline for about a decade.

This time, though, it’s different. There are more than movies on demand, and there’s more than standard definition television. Interactive advertising and games and high definition all demand a chunk of bandwidth – and cable operators demand that if an application can generate revenue that it gets a place on the network – so "everybody needs management further out to the edge," said Rocco.

Camiant doesn’t build QAMs or edge devices or VOD equipment, but it is comfortable on the edge building a policy platform that "has been deployed by most of the major operators on the IP side of the network," said Delaney. "Extending the policy platform over to the video side of the network makes complete sense, and from an operator’s perspective, it’s beautiful because you have one policy domain managing all of your bandwidth."

Bandwidth is being shredded by demand pulling on it from every side.

"It’s being driven by HD, (and) as you start to layer on and deliver different formats to the same subscriber – analog, MPEG, HD, all different kinds of digital encoding and digital formats as well as digital applications like VOD and switched digital video (and) games and then, of course, there’s the specter of modular CMTS," Delaney said.

No individual application will deliver the subsonic signal to send the competitive mice scurrying, but together they can raise a racket and push the telcos and satellite players out of the house. If they’re properly managed. Analog reclamation projects "Even when you factor in that many of the cable operators will be recovering bandwidth analog through reclamation … with the number of HD channels that they’re planning on providing, they’re going to eat up that network recovery, (and) they’re going to use more bandwidth for data services to try to compete with the telco industry," said Don Dewar, video architect for Camiant. "That’s one of the things that’s driving Camiant: (cable operators) know they are losing the competitive edge in video, and they know they need to be innovative and use whatever tools that they can to increase the quality and bandwidth available for all of the services that they want to provide."

– Jim Barthold

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