Motorola Inc. is integrating InfoLibria Inc.'s caching
platform with its own cable-modem infrastructure -- a pairing that taps into
Internet-service providers' caution about potential broadband-data bottlenecks.
The companies planned to unveil an agreement at this week's
National Show to jointly market their integrated system, which is intended to open up
delivery of more bandwidth-intensive applications, such as streaming video and interactive
advertising, by boosting the performance of high-speed cable-data networks.
To do so, Motorola is integrating with its
cable-modem-termination system -- which it claims is the world's most widely installed --
the "DynaCache" and "MediaMall" products that Waltham, Mass.-based
InfoLibria has deployed widely among Internet-service providers.
DynaCache is a carrier-class caching server installed at
Internet backbone-access sites and ISP points of presence to store and deliver Web content
directly to surfers, eliminating the need for them to make as many "trips" to
the heavily used backbone. Besides speeding content delivery, the solution effectively
expands bandwidth capacity for network operators, InfoLibria said.
MediaMall applies the same principle to streaming audio and
video content from the Internet, pushing it to caching servers installed closer to the
edge of the network to speed access and improve the quality of what the user actually
"The expectations as we move forward are not that we
get a fast connection to the cable headend, but that you get high-quality content,"
InfoLibria director of marketing Kevin Lewis said.
"Our goal is to bring content and to intelligently
position it in a headend and at home, so that the user gets on the Internet the same type
of response they get on TV," he added.
Motorola product-marketing manager Jeff Walker said current
network-caching models tended to bring content only as far as a regional data center.
As a result, links from headends to the centers might
suffer the same type of congestion as the Internet backbone, as more users come on board
and make more demands for bandwidth-intensive streaming video or rich Web-site content.
Walker said the partnership would also look at doing some
caching at the user's home -- a concept that will be demonstrated at the National Show.
He added that a multimedia hub at the home might have
caching abilities not only for Internet content, but also for video, connected with a
variety of household appliances via high-bandwidth wireless or "fire-wire"
"You're not going to be able to simulate the turn of a
channel dial if content is located at a headend or originating server," Walker said.
"If you can store a piece of the content at the home, the person can get
instantaneous response from the content in their local system, and the network can
continue sending the rest of the movie" or other content.
The bottom line for the vendors is to convince cable
operators that they can create new revenue opportunities by positioning content closer to
Walker and Lewis pointed to custom local ad insertion into
Web pages based on information gathered from the caching servers about customer usage --
or possibly broadcasting streaming video to personal computers of a cable program that may
not be available on the local cable system.
"It's simple to offer that via Internet protocol, and
to embed advertising into it, as well," Walker said. "You could offer a whole
different channel lineup with IP if you want."
Major high-speed-data-service providers have already begun
implementing their own caching solutions, primarily to help prevent slowdowns.
Road Runner said last month that it awarded a $5 million
contract to privately held CacheFlow Inc. for that company's caching solution, while @Home
Network began using Inktomi Corp.'s network-caching software last summer as part of its
SoftNet Systems Inc.'s ISP Channel turnkey cable
Internet-access-system provider is also working with Inktomi as a distributor of its
caching product for small and midsized MSOs.
While admitting that the competitive U.S. market may be
tougher to crack than newer, international cable markets, Motorola nevertheless sees
plenty of opportunity in the United States.
"If we can deliver a better solution by integrating
these pieces together, the game is certainly a long-term game," Walker said. "We
feel that as things move along, there may be more opportunity to position these things in
combination with a Road Runner or an @Home."