Feeding the content machine

If there's anything that Internet consumers are hungry for, it's content, and lots of it, when we want it.

This includes everything from my wife trolling web pages to confirm when Charlaine Harris will put out her next installment of the Sookie Stackhouse series or my own desire to stream old Grateful Dead concerts on my PC.

The hunger for more online content has various rippling effects on the service provider. For one, the question is what can the telco get out of it from a revenue perspective?

I started thinking about this when I was talking with Verizon this week about its new Verizon's Partner Port Program. Instead of just laying down and letting the content owners win, Verizon decided to upgrade its Partner Port Program service that gives the content owner, CDN or content aggregator a way to directly to connect into its network.

These enhancements have two obvious benefits for Verizon and its customers.

Verizon will continue to gain a new revenue stream by selling access to its network. Content owners benefit because they no longer have to establish multiple peering arrangements with multiple providers. This will enable them to deliver a richer experience because they can bring the content, including video, closer to the customer. 

Ihab Tarazi, vice president of global network planning for Verizon told me in a recent interview that Partner Port Program reflects the company's strategy to accomodate its customer's video watching habits. "More and more people are predicting video dominating the IP network in the next few years," he said. "It's very clear that consumers have many channels available to them for video and get a lot of traffic over the top for content and video."

Not surprisingly, all of this new content focus is driving Verizon to juice up its network. The service provider said it would deploy 100 Gbps Ethernet to support the influx of content on the network.  

But Verizon isn't the only carrier seeing the affects of content consumption.

On the wholesale operator front, NTT America found that in 2009 Internet traffic grew 80 percent on its network. Doug Junkins, CTO of NTT America contributes that growth to broadband and content. This prompted the service provider to upgrade its submarine cable connection between Japan and the U.S. to 300 Gbps.

"It was really the continued growth of broadband services in Japan and that content is still predominantly coming from the U.S," he said. "We still see a lot of content hosted in the U.S. going to our South American and European customers other than the ones we have in Japan."

Content is not just a consumer-driven phenomenon, however. Businesses are also tapping into online video.  

AT&T Digital Media Solutions for one is targeting business customers with capabilities that will help them package, deliver and distribute video and rich multimedia Web content across their communications networks. In addition, AT&T has struck a partnership with iStreamPlanet to expand the range services supporting video creation and publishing.

Whether it is business or consumer content, the content machine is hungry so service providers should work with content providers and find ways to extend their networking expertise in order to enhance, not inhibit, the broadband experience. --Sean