streaming video alliance

A group of 17 service providers, content companies and tech vendors has formed the Streaming Video Alliance, aimed at formulating industry-wide standards and establishing best practices for high-scale Internet video services.

Notably, Netflix and YouTube — which represent the two biggest sources of Internet bandwidth usage — are not members of the group. Both companies have invested heavily in their own video-distribution infrastructure, which means they wouldn’t be interested in switching gears to adopt a new architecture defined by an external consortium.

The founding SVA members are: Alcatel-Lucent, Charter Communications, Cisco Systems, Comcast, Epix, Fox Networks Group, Korea Telecom, Level 3 Communications, Liberty Global, Limelight Networks, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Qwilt, Telecom Italia, Telstra, Ustream, Wowza Media Systems and Yahoo.

“Online video continues to thrive, and rising consumer demand for a great streaming-video experience is only the beginning,” said Alon Maor, CEO of Qwilt, which sells a video-delivery system to ISPs. “The need for increased collaboration among members of the streaming video ecosystem is clear, and the formation of the Streaming Video Alliance presents a strategic opportunity for us to provide consumers with the best experience possible.”

The Streaming Video Alliance has three tiers of membership: sponsor/founding member ($25,000 annually); full member ($12,500); and supporting member ($5,500).

The group will focus on three initial areas: open architecture, to define specifications for network and cloud-based streaming and caching infrastructure; quality of experience, to create a common approach to defining, measuring, optimizing and reporting quality of the video streaming; and interoperability, to create standards for streaming video.

One of the trade group’s organizers is Dan Rayburn, Frost & Sullivan principal analyst and EVP of StreamingMedia.com, an industry news website and conference producer.

Founding members of the Streaming Video Alliance (streamingvideoalliance.org) will meet together at least twice per year in person, and committees will have regular calls and meetings to create specs. The SVA is not a standards body, Rayburn said; rather, it plans to propose technical specs to relevant standards bodies.

The formation of the SVA comes as the issue of net neutrality — the idea that the government should forbid Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against content providers — has boiled over in Washington. President Obama this week urged the FCC to reclassify broadband as a Title II telecommunications service, with certain conditions. That’s a step ISPs firmly opposed, and the political lines have been drawn as the FCC hammers out a revised net-neutrality proposal.

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