The Killer App, Video on Demand, Inches Ever Nearer

Video on demand (VOD) inches ever nearer: Xing Technology and The Fantastic Corporation have announced a partnership intended to bring live and on-demand digital video streaming to high-bandwidth satellite, cable modem, and ADSL operators.

Networks with the required bandwidth for VOD are under development and being tested around the world, and they will be rolling out in the next few years. A spokesperson for Xing (pronounced zing) points out that European countries such as Sweden are pushing high-bandwidth networks for consumers more rapidly than most people realize. Xing will integrate its streaming-video technology with Fantastic's broadband, multimedia broadcast technology, which will enable high-speed, high-quality digital video and audio via Internet Protocol (IP).

The partnership currently supports MPEG1-quality video at bandwidths up to 1.5 megabits per second. This allows multimedia data (e.g., Web-based content) to be distributed to end users within high-speed network environments such as satellite and cable networks and corporate intranets. MPEG2 codecs, which can accommodate speeds up to 20 megabits per second, are slated to be in place by the third quarter of 1998.

Under the joint agreement, Fantastic's server side technologies, Channel Management Center and Channel Editorial Center, will include a 10-channel, upgradeable Xing StreamWorks Server as a standard feature. Together, they bring MPEG audio and video streams to personal computers.

Fantastic's MediaSurfer client software will include Xing's StreamWorks Player capabilities to decode and display incoming MPEG audio and video streams. Xing's MPEGLive! Encoder will also be used in conjunction with all of Fantastic's products to deliver MPEG audio and video streams from live or pre-recorded analog sources.

According to Peter Ohnemus, president and CEO of The Fantastic Corporation, "This will enable us to bring IP-based, TV-quality digital video broadcasts to our subscribers. Xing's focus on high-bandwidth video streaming helps preserve the quality of the content being delivered while producing the best end-user experience that we have seen. True interactivity is now made possible through Fantastic's Channel Management Center using Xing's StreamWorks technology for video delivery."

Fantastic's platform enables multimedia content to be packaged into themed channels---sports, movies, business, etc.---then broadcast via any network to corporate intranets and PCs and eventually to next-generation set-top boxes and televisions.

Hassan Miah, president and CEO of Xing, states, "This partnership makes satellite-based streaming video more accessible and manageable by offering the end user and satellite distributor an unparalleled high-speed network solution over which to broadcast." Xing's goal: innovations in MPEG technology that make high-quality digital audio and video available in network environments. More partnerships will be announced shortly.