Online video moguls team up to set standards, meet growing demand

Cisco, Comcast, Yahoo and others formed the Streaming Video Alliance

Some of the most powerful companies in video networks and delivery plan to define an open architecture for streaming video as part of a new alliance that includes Cisco Systems, Comcast, Ustream and Yahoo, but not Netflix or YouTube.

The Streaming Video Alliance, announced Friday, says it wants to help scale the infrastructure for online video and make it more efficient while maintaining the quality of the viewer experience. To do that, it plans to "redefine the way online video is streamed across mobile and fixed networks" while fostering deeper collaboration and speeding up innovation.

Streaming video is growing fast and taking up an increasing share of network capacity as consumers turn to online sources of entertainment instead of, and in addition to, broadcast TV and traditional cable. It's also a hotly contested area where broadband providers and over-the-top Internet video companies such as Netflix have clashed over the business side of delivering large amounts of content to consumers. Much of the debate over net neutrality centers on whether service providers can sell network priority to streaming video companies.

The Alliance boasts a broad array of major players in online video. They include cable operators Charter Communications and Liberty Global, Fox Networks Group, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, network operator Level 3 Communications, and players outside the U.S. including Korea Telecom, Telecom Italia and Telstra.

The group aims to define specifications for streaming and caching infrastructure to carry live and on-demand video. It also intends to set standards so content providers, delivery networks and network operators can stream video efficiently, and to create a common approach to measuring and reporting the quality of the video streaming experience.

"The hope is that companies throughout the ecosystem will join this effort to develop a multifaceted solution that works for all elements of the ecosystem," the Alliance said in a press release.

Netflix and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Alliance.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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Stephen Lawson

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