Akamai Takes High-Definition to the Internet
Engineers long ago figured out how to deliver high-definition TV signals via over-the-air broadcast and cable, but the Internet is a different animal. Trying to squeeze that much data through a home or office Internet connection can lead to stutter and long “buffering” delays. For some time now, Akamai has been working on upgrades to its global distribution network that will allow it to deliver clients’ high-definition video streams without interruption—including a partnership with Microsoft last October to adapt HD signals for the company’s Silverlight video format and a deal with Inlet Technologies in July that did the same for the Apple iPhone over AT&T’s 3G network.
Today the company added Adobe’s Flash format to the mix and unveiled a comprehensive “Akamai HD Network” that, according to Akamai, can deliver HD-quality video to broadcast-scale audiences. The key to the network, as we reported in the July iPhone story, is a technique called adaptive bitrate streaming, which allows Akamai to raise or lower the quality of a video stream to match the available bandwidth without any interruption in viewing. Deploying this adaptive technique to its network of 50,000 servers around the world will allow Akamai to transmit smooth video to audiences in 70 countries, the company said. Over the HD network, users can also pause and rewind a video stream, just as they would if they were using a DVR.
“We’re entering a different online world, where many content owners and publishers need to deliver HD-quality video to a much wider online audience, with a higher level of interactivity for consumers,” Akamai president and CEO Paul Sagan said in a statement. “With the Akamai HD Network, we are revolutionizing the way content traverses the Internet with a new approach to bringing an HDTV-like experience online.”