BigBand Networks Formed to Offer Audio/Video Services

Last week, digital video and networking companies Optibase, Lucent, 3Com, DiviCom, ECI Telecom, and Siemens announced that they have formed BigBand Networks in an effort to provide "a new network platform to deliver entertainment-quality content and services combining video, voice, and data over multiple broadband networks including cable, DSL, satellite, and wireless."

The new company claims that, unlike current solutions that attempt to deploy multimedia content over data networks, BigBand Networks' combined video/data networking approach is based on routing and managing media in its native formats, such as MPEG video or IP packets, "creating a new broadband infrastructure platform that enhances the value of existing networks."

BigBand Networks says its products will enable service providers to distribute "entertainment-quality" interactive video services along with audio and data to consumer and business appliances such as televisions, PDAs, cell phones, personal computers, and gaming devices. Redpoint Ventures, which contributed $17 million of the $30 million used to finance the new venture, explains that "data networks are limited in their ability to meet the demand for quality interactive multimedia content. It takes a new breed of technology and new breed of company to step away from legacy approaches to design the solution for this enormous challenge. BigBand Networks' combined video and networking expertise has resulted in a new technology that will deliver interactive video, data, and voice services with the unprecedented quality that broadband networks have been promising."

According to BigBand, because of the wide deployment of cable and its ability to support multimedia and interactive content delivery, BigBand Networks' initial target is cable service providers, with future markets in multiple broadband networks, including DSL, satellite, and wireless. The company's Amir Bassan-Eskenazi states that "while cable is the first application for our products, BigBand Networks' patented technology will dramatically enhance the service offerings available from any broadband access network. Our goal is to make quality broadband services available to any user with any communications device."