Cisco Systems laid out a vision to let service providers blend TV with Web content, personal media and social-networking, with a software-based architecture dubbed Videoscape.
"We think the future is going to be about reinventing the TV," Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers said at a press conference here at the Consumer Electronics Show.
The company described Videoscape as a comprehensive TV platform for service providers that will deliver a "truly immersive home and mobile video entertainment experience."
The Cisco Videoscape platform encompasses an IP-based media gateway for the integration of voice, linear and online video, high-speed data, Wi-Fi and network traffic routing; the Videoscape IP set-top box, to support all video forms delivered to a TV; software clients that extend the services to a variety of home and mobile devices, from connected TVs to tablets and smartphones; and the Videoscape Media Suite, which provides content lifecycle management.
Chambers emphasized that the Videoscape vision -- which ties together elements across Cisco's divisions, including IP set-tops, the umi videoconferencing system and Flip camera -- is not about an individual set-top or device, but rather a software architecture. He also reiterated that Cisco will work with operator customers to deliver the converged technologies to consumers.
"It's not about devices, in our opinion, it's about the intelligence in the network -- it's a software architectural announcement," Chambers said. "The Videoscape experience is about how you have an infinite source of content -- how do you allow any device, over any network, to [access] content it's authorized to get." He added that 75% to 80% of Cisco's investment in Videoscape is in software.
The idea: to let service providers counter over-the-top services, by integrating Internet-delivered content and services seamlessly across multiple screens. "The customer will say, ‘I really want to align with the service provider on this,' instead of going to five or six different providers," Chambers said.
Cisco is currently working with several major global service provider customers, including Australian telecommunications company Telstra, to enable next-generation video experiences through the Videoscape platform.
"We see tremendous opportunity with IP video services that offer consumers interactive, internet-like experiences using both the TV and the PC," Telstra CEO David Thodey said in a statement. "We worked with Cisco to deploy a Content Delivery Network that quickly proved to be a key differentiator for Telstra, and means we can provide products and services with a more consistent and reliable video experience to multiple devices."
According to Chambers, Cisco plans to make an announcement every quarter with a service provider about working on Videoscape deployments.
SNL Kagan analyst Ian Olgeirson said Cisco's deliberate operator-oriented approach -- with the vendor disavowing a retail play for over-the-top devices -- would give it an advantage over competitors that are targeting consumers directly. "It is a nice way for Cisco to present all the things they've been cobbling together for years," he said.
In a demo at the press conference, Cisco showed an on-screen guide combining linear TV, DVR recordings, Web-delivered content, videoconferencing and personal media. It used "EarthCom" as the fake name of the provider in the demo.
The press conference was held at the Venetian Hotel's Murano Ballroom.
In an interview with Multichannel News last fall, Enrique Rodriguez, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Service Provider Video Technology Group, discussed the idea of letting cable operators provide a more unified TV and Web experience (see Cisco Video Chief: TV Must Get the 'Net). Before joining Cisco in June, he was corporate vice president for Microsoft's TV, video and music business unit, which includes the Mediaroom IPTV platform.