Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sun Defines New Approach to IPTV Networking

Sun introduced its Sun Streaming System, a video delivery system that supports both on demand and broadcast content. This system was designed to enable service providers to offer a highly personalized set of services based on delivering all traffic using unicast techniques.

IPTV broadcast channels are typically delivered using mulicast which allows viewers to share the same set of packets, thus significantly reducing network loading for this broadcast content. Of course, there is not personalization with these broadcast services since all viewers are seeing exactly the same thing.

The introduction of video on demand followed by NPVR and advanced advertising will push more and more IPTV traffic into unicast. Sun's system addresses this increased network loading by pushing the IPTV connections down to the optical layer.

The Sun Streaming System consists of the following elements:
  • Supervisor nodes
  • Controller nodes
  • Session controller nodes
  • Content acquisition nodes
  • Media storage
  • Ethernet switch

The Ethernet switch included in the Sun system is connected to a set of optical links that terminate in the video serving office with the access systems and DSLAMs that terminate the subscriber broadband connections. This approach bypasses a Layer 2 Ethernet network or Layer 3 IP network to transport video traffic to the edge.

You can get more information about the Sun Streaming System at

I have been quite concerned about how IP or Ethernet transport networks would be able to cope with the increasing loads of video traffic as IPTV services become more popular. It looks like the optical approach that Sun is offering is the right way to go.

TelecomView will release a report next week that compare IP, Ethernet, and optical approaches to IPTV networking. It will conclude that an optical will be best in the long run as the amount of unicast traffic on the network increases.

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