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Akamai Unveils the Akamai HD Network

Delivers HD video online to viewers using Adobe Flash technology, Microsoft Silverlight, & to the iPhone

Akamai Technologies has announced the Akamai HD Network, its next-generation video delivery offering and a platform to deliver HD video online to viewers using Adobe Flash technology, Microsoft Silverlight, and to the iPhone, at broadcast-level audience scale. The Akamai HD Network is the only solution that supports live and on-demand HD streaming with a highly-personalized and interactive online experience that matches and complements HD television.

As a first-of-its-kind streaming platform, the Akamai HD Network is designed as one, comprehensive HD network reaching multiple playback environments and devices, including Flash, Silverlight, and the iPhone. Leveraging the global breadth and scale of Akamai’s globally-distributed EdgePlatform of more than 50,000 servers, the Akamai HD Network enables content providers to deliver more HD content than previously possible – due to its wide-scale distribution in 70 countries and increased throughputs in more than 900 networks.

The Akamai HD Network is a streaming platform that leverages the following functionalities:

  • Adaptive Bitrate Streaming - Unique network and player streaming process that is designed to enable uninterrupted playback at HD bitrates that seamlessly adjusts to fluctuations in available bandwidth to provide the best quality possible for each user
  • Instant Response – Immediate response to viewer interactions with the video player, including sub-second time-shifting (such as pause, rewind, seek and play commands) video startup times, and seamless stream switching
  • HD Video Player – Open, standards-based video player for faster time to market
  • HD Player Authentication - Authenticates player for all three environments ensuring only authorized players access content

“Seeing is believing,” said Paul Sagan, President and CEO, Akamai. “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. 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. Delivering ‘web-quality’ content to ‘web-sized’ audiences is one thing, but delivering HD-quality content to broadcast-scale audiences is another.”

Akamai has helped pioneer the delivery of HD content online, having worked with leading entertainment, sports, and news businesses. Two key trends have made it necessary to now evolve how streaming media is delivered on the Internet. First, online audiences have grown to broadcast scale. Second, those viewers are demanding higher quality content. Studies show that when higher quality video content is offered, viewer engagement time increases. Supporting this level of traffic requires a global network that can manage millions of simultaneous users streaming very high bitrate content. The Akamai HD Network was designed for large-scale broadcasters and film distributors looking to increase audience engagement and to expand revenues by complementing traditional mediums, such as TV and DVD, with the Internet.

The Akamai HD Network offers adaptive bitrate streaming capabilities across playback formats that are specifically optimized to work with Akamai’s HD EdgePlatform for the fastest and most consistent video bitrate switching - enabling an instant and uninterrupted viewing experience for consumers even at the highest bitrates. Leveraging Akamai’s entire HTTP footprint, video over Akamai’s HD Network is delivered from servers closer to audiences around the world. As a result, Akamai can more tightly control the amount of time the player needs to buffer before switching streams. The shorter the buffer, the faster the stream can adapt and respond to changing end-user conditions. The result is intended to create a seamless HD quality video experience – with little to no buffering.

“We are excited to see Akamai’s commitment to HTTP adaptive streaming as the future of online video delivery, as we have worked closely over the past year to build a robust end-to-end media delivery platform with IIS Smooth Streaming and Silverlight,” said Steve Sklepowich, director for Silverlight at Microsoft Corp. “Together, we’ve proven that these true HD experiences can dramatically increase online viewing times for broadcasters. In addition, Microsoft’s ability to deliver live and on-demand protected streams with Smooth Streaming and Silverlight, along with enhanced interactive experiences, such as multiple camera angles, alternate language tracks and in-stream data feeds, have raised the bar for online delivery using HTTP.”

“Adobe works closely with Akamai to optimize Flash Media delivery on Akamai’s network for the benefit of our mutual customers,” said Jim Guerard, Vice-President and General Manager, Dynamic Media at Adobe. “We’re pleased that customers who already leverage the Flash Platform as the number one video format online will now enjoy increased scalability and quality gains as a result of utilizing Akamai’s vast edge infrastructure via HTTP video streaming.”

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Flex News Desk provides the very latest news on the cross-platform Flex development framework for creating rich Internet applications, and on Adobe's AIR/Flex/Flash product combination.

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