With less than two weeks to go until the very same FCC requirement (FCC-10-81) goes into effect, a Cisco Tuning Adapter in the wild received the F.1402 firmware update that upgrades it from double to quadruple duty. This is fantastic news for those who already have a Ceton InfiniTV 4 on a system that uses Switched Digital Video, as it will eliminate the need for one more set-top box, but should also be good news to the company who formally requested CableLabs change the spec to require four tuners in the first place; TiVo. No way to know exactly when this firmware update will roll out, but we’re sure we’re not alone when we say we hope it brings some much needed stability along with it.
Posts Tagged ‘Cisco’
Cisco has released its Visual Networking Index and it has some interesting data about video and the Internet. For example, video accounted for 40% of all the consumer data traffic on the Internet in 2010, and is forecast to reach 50% in 2012. When you consider all the emails, all the music downloads, and all the peer-to-peer data transfers (which includes a lot of pirated video), this is a mighty impressive milestone.
Once you get past that key piece of information, you rapidly get into some of the blow-your-mind data points. For example, a million minutes of video will cross the Internet every second by 2015. It would take more than five years to watch that second’s worth of content. High-definition video on the Internet is growing and will pass standard definition by the end of this year. By 2015, HD content will make up more than three quarters of the Internet video-on-demand (VoD). By that time, Internet VoD traffic will be the equivalent of three billion DVDs a month.
All of this is good news for Cisco, which is one of the leading companies in making the hardware that makes the Internet possible. The company forecasts that by 2015, there will be two Internet-connected devices for every man, woman, and child in the entire world. The annual global IP traffic of all data combined is forecast to hit nearly a zettabyte by the end of 2015. (I had to look up zettabyte; it’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. Can you imagine a trillion 1GB hard drives full of data? I can’t.)
So Internet video is growing rapidly: tripling in 2010 and increasing 17 times more by 2015. Could it be the application that kills the Internet? I’ve lived through too many doomsday scenarios with the Internet to bet against it at this point. When there’s demand, the networking industry finds ways to meet it. My guess is that the data pipes are just going to get bigger and faster, and we’ll find all sorts of new ways to enjoy instant access to unimaginable amounts of data whenever and wherever we want. I’m looking forward to it.
Millions of people use Skype every day to place hold video chats with friends, family, and business colleagues across town or around the world… for free. All you need is a computer with a Web cam and a microphone, and you’re good to go. There are even Skype applications that let you have a video chat with someone using certain models of smart phones. (You need one with a camera that faces you while you’re looking at the screen.) There are also other systems that offer free video chat, from giants such as Google and Microsoft to smaller companies that specialize in this.
So what is Cisco thinking with its announcement this week of its new “umi” product? (Yes, it’s pronounced “you-me”, because that’s who is involved in the video chat. Cute, huh?) First, you have to have an HDTV with an available HDMI connection, as well as a high-speed broadband connection. Then you have to pay 0 (list price) for the hardware. And finally, you also have to pay .99 a month for the service. Huh? Why on earth would anyone pay about 0 (for the first year) just to have video chats with others when you can do it for free using other services?
The answer is that the Cisco service should be a lot better. I use Skype for video chat a lot, and while it’s great, the image and sound quality is not always ideal. Think back to the days of analog cell phones and “can you hear me now?” It can be sort of like that. Cisco is going to provide a service “in the cloud” where they will be providing the computing power to make sure that you get a good connection every time. And it will do more. If someone “calls” you and you’re not there to answer, they can leave a video message that will get stored in the cloud until you’re ready to retrieve it. And you can access video messages and other features using a laptop, even though it’s not connected to the hardware.
And speaking of the hardware, it’s a lot more than just a Webcam. The package includes a microphone array that should be able to pick the sound of your voice out of the ambient noise in the room. The camera is motorized, so that it can pan and zoom in response to remote control commands. In other words, it’s designed from the ground up for living room use.
Now, if all you could do with this is call other umi users, I’d have a real problem with that. Video phones have failed in the past largely because they never could get enough of them installed to create a useful network. According to the Cisco press release, you will be able to hold video conversations with people who are using the video chat feature of Google Chat. That immediately enlarges the universe of potential conversation partners. And there’s the added benefit that the Google Chat users will be exposed to the advantages of umi, making them prospects to step up to the better service.
We won’t know just how well all this works until it hits the shelves in mid-November, through Best Buy and directly from Cisco. But the company has clearly developed a comprehensive marketing plan which includes mall tours and getting Oprah to use the system to contact people on her show. Cisco looks as though they will be able to make a good case for why you should pay for a service that you could get free somewhere else.