“Visual networks”: TV and PC together

People love video, wherever they get it – from a computer or TV. Until now, however, we receive one information through TV, the other – through a PC. Together with the world’s leading carriers such as Comcast and AT&T, Deutsche Telekom and British Telecom, Softbank BB and China Telecom, Cisco is developing new technologies that give TVs the interactive multimedia features of the Internet. On the other hand, purely television content is beginning to be transmitted through other communication channels to new user devices.

We like the term “visual networking” because it captures the hard fact that modern people no longer want to passively stare at the TV screen. Video is becoming one of the most important functions of the Internet and all other communication and entertainment services. Cable television operators such as Comcast and carriers such as AT&T are increasingly offering subscribers multimedia television services that link all types of content and all types of user devices together. These services are based on video technologies. We are at the very beginning of this journey, but today more and more operators are starting to use the IP protocol for video networks.

The use of television and video technologies in IP networks facilitates the introduction of video-on-demand (Void) services and virtual video recorders. New technologies allow the viewer to watch whatever he wants, at any convenient moment. In addition, it becomes possible to deliver to the TV screen all the abundance of information that is stored on the World Wide Web. This means you can watch YouTube video clips on your large plasma or LCD TV and share your photos with family and friends.

It is clear that the PC will remain the best way to run some multimedia applications, but the TV can display high-definition video. For multiplayer games, a large screen and high resolution, which is provided by television receivers, are best suited. Another example of the use of visual networks is an interactive chat on a television screen while watching a television program. Experience in the development of Web 2.0 technologies and social networks shows that we cannot predict which of the new applications will become the most popular.

Therefore, the new generation of television workers must offer not only high-quality movies and TV shows, but also connect viewers to video content and a wide variety of electronic devices, Internet applications and multimedia programs. This is the essence of visual networks. People like not only the Internet, but also the home TV, so the video is gradually turning into the same “killer application” that will connect the TV world and the PC world into one. People want it, and we will give them that opportunity.

Delivering video (especially high resolution) to the big screen is no easy task. Its complexity is an order of magnitude higher than that of tasks related to voice transmission over IP networks. Simply connecting your TV to a broadband network will not satisfy most users. The “last mile” of the Internet lacks sufficient bandwidth and does not support the specialized (and highly complex) mechanisms required to carefully process and transmit video signals over the network. And without this.

it is impossible to maintain high quality video. Only the largest operators have such opportunities. As a rule, these same operators provide broadband channels for Internet access. Today they are actively expanding the bandwidth of their channels in order to deliver video content to subscribers. Thus, the leading operators have already started building visual networks.

High definition television (HDTV) requires five times the bandwidth of a conventional definition digital signal. Therefore, the wider the bandwidth in the new television networks, the better. That is why we are developing new routers and switches, which have essentially become supercomputers for visual networks.

But bandwidth isn’t everything. As already discussed, high-definition video networks require complex control systems to maintain flawless picture quality and service reliability. These characteristics, commonly referred to as “quality of service” (Qi’s), are best implemented at the network level. Cisco offers all the tools you need to run the new visual networks seamlessly.

The task is not only to deliver the video signal to houses and apartments. It is not enough for a modern user to simply switch channels – he wants to have full control over what, where and when he will watch. Therefore, the network technologies of our subsidiaries Scientific Atlanta and Linksys help broadcasters harness the power and power of the Internet to support video-on-demand services, virtual digital video recorders, and interactive services that include connection to personal computers and other home electronic devices.

We asked our TV service provider customers what their top priorities were to address first. In response, we heard very unexpected things. First, they all started talking about the gateway. Today, many people use a modem that is not widely compatible to receive broadband services. The only function it supports is connection to a personal computer. Therefore, we set ourselves the task of developing, together with operators.

a “home gateway” – a new type of device that will not only give the user a broadband channel, but also help connect him to all home devices, including TVs, music systems, game consoles, etc. Our first home IP gateways were showcased at CES-2008 and will be on the market soon. Their main goal is to make it easier to access the Internet and deliver any content and services to all home devices. Broadcasters are very fond of such gateways because they allow broadcasters to provide millions of users with a vast array of new entertainment and communications services.

Another new development from Cisco is a hybrid set-top box that not only supports analog, digital, high-definition television, and video-on-demand services, but also provides viewers with access to video streaming services offered on Web sites. Now this content can be delivered to both PC and TV, which is why the set-top box is called “hybrid”. Like the gateway, the new set-top box completely changes our understanding of television. The telecommunications company will no longer be a telephone, cable and broadband company, but will be able to provide the subscriber with all services at the same time. The main thing is to make these services simple and attractive. For this, new home gateways and hybrid set-top boxes are being developed.