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TV Quality Reliable Wireless Video Streaming
September 2003. SDForum Emerging Technologies SIG of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, CA, USA. TV Quality Reliable Wireless Video Streaming, William F. (Bill) Jolitz. Everybody wants to watch movies on a computer, but nobody does. It's worse on wireless, and even more hobbled on a cellphone or PDA. So what's a service provider to do? The customer expects TV or the service is toast. Is this possible? The problem is maintaining continuous service delivery quality. We know this, because downloaded movies play just fine. But download movies have other problems - copyright, storage demand, and unpredictable viewing availability. While there are cures, the cure is often worse - killing the emerging business.
Let's get real - download is really "plan ahead, pay once, use forever". Streaming is "pay per view" - what the service provider wants. It would be so much easier if reliable streaming worked over wireless. Today we either rollout unreliable wireless services or demo reliable services in a fantasy sandbox - the real world is a hard test. When you still can't get good cellphone coverage on the financial mecca of Sand Hill road, can you expect to pull out a PDA at Starbucks and get Shrek even half as good as a cheap TV can?
Yet large-scale wireless deployment is happening worldwide - the business opportunity of delivering on the services that get a ROI on this immense gamble is extreme. We can make reliable streaming over wire connections right now using bandwidth surplus, fast failover switching, and careful network design. But it still takes remarkably little to destabilize a single stream, let alone thousands in competition for transport resource.
In studying the stable stream we've found a novel hardware/software approach for wireless video. The network hardware is InterProphet's Silicon TCP stack used as a distributed transport that can achieve on-time delivery of video. A software framework that provides for reliability and embedded monitoring is a critical part of the deployment story in managing the infrastructure. With it, customer quality is maintained while challenges to the service are acted upon before a loss of quality can occur. Such a framework is re-purposed from delivering reliable web services, as described in my article on Web Services in Datacenter Environments in the April edition of Dr. Dobbs Journal. See TV Quality Reliable Wireless Video Streaming