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What is InterStream and why was it founded?

InterStream is a cooperative of wholesale and retail Internet Service Providers (ISPs), content creators, owners and distributors, equipment manufacturers and consumer electronics companies who collectively seek to improve the broadband supply chain holistically. InterStream was founded to serve as a neutral third party, with internal governance procedures to balance the interests of the broadband ecosystem so that the consumer may garner more value, transparency and quality from any application used via a high-speed Internet connection.

InterStream aligns the interests of key broadband stakeholders to build and maintain the cooperative framework necessary for reasonable network management, and provide guaranteed delivery of “broadcast-quality” video to all Internet connected devices. This framework is required in order to keep the Internet an open platform that will continue to inspire and foster innovation.

The web was initially designed using “Best Effort” delivery models. “Best Effort” describes a service where the network (in this case, an ISP) does not provide any guarantees in terms of timely delivery or quality levels. First class mail is analogous to a “Best Effort” delivery system, meaning that the Postal Service does not provide any guarantees for a letter’s arrival. In a “Best Effort” network, all applications and files are sent with the same bit rate and delivery speeds, all of which will vary depending upon the level of congestion, or traffic, on the network. At times, “Best Effort” fails to delivery video to consumers and businesses in a consistent manner due to the changing environment of an ISPs network throughout the day. This system was adequate when the most widely used applications on the Internet were text-based (emails, web surfing, message boards, etc.) and when high-speed subscription rates were ramping up. However, the economic and technical paradigms that supported the text web are not adequate to deliver quality service to an increasing number of high-speed subscribers who are looking to utilize the web to watch video at exponential rates.

InterStream was founded in order to address key vulnerabilities of the “Best Effort” Internet that prohibit consistent and successful distribution of video content. While many organizations paved the way for the exponential adoption of video content, none have addressed the technical shortcomings of “Best Effort” delivery holistically. The founders of InterStream, since its inception, have sought insight and direction from the most prodigious thought-leaders in the industry. The InterStream framework will not only serve to enhance existing technology to support video more effectively, it will also enable robust and scalable copyright protection without invading consumer’s privacy.

What industry issues will InterStream address and solve?

To improve the Internet experience, service providers are presented with unique technical challenges given that the Internet must handle various types of data (voice and video), at different levels of size and volume, during busy and normal congestion on various networks. For example, text and voice files are apples compared to the oranges of video files. Video files are, from a raw data perspective, much larger and therefore require much more bandwidth to be delivered successfully. In order for a consumer to maintain even a moderately satisfactory viewing experience, HD video requires over 1,000 times the amount of bandwidth that text delivery (email) requires. The text web, or “best effort” paradigm, cannot absorb the increase of traffic as the Internet grows into the world’s most popular video distribution tool.

Through InterStream, the necessary tools will be developed and deployed that will allow for universal segmentation of Internet traffic by application need. This framework will foster numerous consumer-oriented network enhancements with an emphasis on service plan transparency as well as ensuring guaranteed upload and download speeds. This will allow for the creation of multiple new service levels and business models for ISPs, content distributors, and create a platform for innovation of next-gen applications (telemedicine, smart grid, education, etc.).

InterStream and its goal of aligning interests and providing a framework for reasonable network management enables an open Internet which remains an accessible and a potent tool for innovation.

Who should join and how will they benefit?

InterStream members will actively create this new paradigm by drafting terms that serve the needs of all participants, and will define the policies that ensure the broadband ecosystem is self-sustaining and scalable. Currently, InterStream is seeking input from all members of the broadband supply chain including:

  • Global wholesale and retail Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
  • Content Creators, Owners and Distributors
  • Independent content producers
  • Consumer Electronics Manufacturers
  • Network Equipment Providers
  • Public Interest Groups, NGOs and Consumer Advocates

InterStream offers several benefits to ecosystem constituents including:

  • Guaranteed quality of service and delivery of streaming video
  • Global platform that provides for business model innovation
  • Improved intellectual property protection without privacy invasion
  • Self-Regulating global entity in lieu of government regulation
  • Policies that ensure “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAN)” access

How will InterStream impact the consumer’s online video experience?

Through deployment of tools developed by InterStream and its participants, virtually every broadband customer will enjoy “broadcast-quality”, uninterrupted video viewing as well as vastly increased choice levels of service options from ISPs and content distributors. As consumers can today decide to opt for “guaranteed” service via Fed Ex (vs. “best effort” postal delivery), InterStream will empower consumers with unprecedented levels of control, speed and content. Service providers and content organizations will then have options to expand their offerings to consumers in terms of service plans, programming, portability, etc.

How does InterStream relate to current video streaming solutions and websites?

InterStream is a neutral third party that simply seeks to promote and enable cutting-edge innovation of an open, cooperative Internet. Any existing online content solution could easily participate within InterStream and provide their customers with a dramatically improved experience. As a cooperative of various members of the broadband ecosystem, including media companies and content distributors, InterStream is not a direct competitor to any existing distribution network or consumer-facing content portal or product—it will simply enhance them all.

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Page last modified on April 20, 2010, at 12:50 PM PST