Carriers and content providers should get together over video

2010 will be a pivotal year for online video, as ISPs and content providers explore radical new ways of working together, analysts said on Tuesday.

According to the latest research from Informa Telecoms & Media, it’s clear that services providers need to collaborate with content providers. Rather than complaining about the bandwidth burden, which so often rears its head in the net neutrality debate, operators and service providers should offer their own video services over the top of rivals’ networks, integrate popular third-party ones into their TV offerings and develop new wholesale products to support rather than throttle video traffic.

While Rob Gallagher, principal analyst for Informa, acknowledges that initiatives by broadcasters, internet firms and consumer electronics giants to bring online video to the TV screen threaten to place unprecedented stress on broadband networks, which may cause problems for the quality of video services, merely throwing bandwidth at the problem may not address some of the fundamental challenges they pose. Instead, network operators should position themselves to offer so called content delivery network services to video providers behind the scenes.

There’s already a lot going on behind the scenes however. Privately, content providers say they are keeping an open mind about such services, but remain concerned that some of the operators’ more radical ideas could harm the “neutrality” of the internet by tilting its level playing field in favour of operators, media conglomerates and well-funded internet firms.

The UK regulator, Ofcom, plans to start a public discussion about net neutrality this year to help all stakeholders talk through the issues.  Regardless of how that plays out, some content providers have strong views about how much they would pay for priority, and whether it is needed at all, especially given the industry’s move to superfast fibre-based broadband networks promises even more breathing space for online video. “We stand at a crucial moment in the internet’s evolution,” Gallagher said.

Get more info on ISPs & Over-The-Top Video: Two can play at that game

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