Attempting to address the demands of the streaming media market, Intel has announced the creation of an Internet-services business for streaming-media providers.
Dubbed the Intel Internet Media Services business, it will aim to provide the infrastructure for companies to stream audio and video content from its broadcast operations centers. The subsidiary will enable media and content providers to stream content such as concerts, films, radio, and briefings across the Internet at a high quality, Intel officials said.
"Our mission statement is to be the key building block for streaming media infrastructure," said Frank Stone, director of operations at Intel.
To meet that goal, Intel is investing more than $200 million in the new business. That investment will fund not only broadcast operations centers being set up in the US - Portland and Oregon - and London, but it also will help establish what the company calls "edge" servers near end-users, company officials said.
The broadcast operations centers will receive, encode, and host content providers' programming using digital processing. The spread-out edge servers then will provide the ability to distribute that content out to localized locations.
"Traditional media companies have had to deal with the quirkiness of the Internet," Stone said. "We're building in the redundancy for media to successfully stream over the Internet. We've really designed this to be scaleable."
The Internet Research Group (now part of Jupiter Communications, in New York) has predicted that the streaming-media services market will expand more than twenty-fold to $2.5 billion dollars by 2004. Stone said that Intel hopes the new business will address the three core concerns of end-users and content providers alike to meet that growth: reliability, a scaleable infrastructure, and consistent quality
IT businesses also can benefit from the technology, Stone added, offering the example of a company-wide training event. The company could stream the training session over the Internet to all of its employees in real time, saving time and money in worker efficiency, Stone said.
Mike Witteman, the director of service technology for Intel Media Services, said Thursday in a phone interview that the network will be competitive with similar services from Yahoo and Akamai Technologies. "We are going to offer customers a level of reliability and scalability they haven't been able to get yet," he said.
Intel officials said that the new streaming-media networks have been live since February of this year, with several business partners already being hosted on them. They include Quokka Sports, FoxKids.com, and the Nasdaq Stock Market's nasdaq.com.
Additionally Intel has established an alliance with ad-giant Doubleclick to enable advertising revenue for streaming content providers, Intel officials said. That could enable a lot of companies to incorporate advertisements while streaming to step-up their business model.