N2 Broadband has unveiled what it calls the first "open" system for cable-based video-on-demand, claiming the solution can support digital systems and video streaming servers from multiple vendors.
N2 Broadband said the system, dubbed "OpenStream," uses published interface specifications that tie together every point along a cable-based on-demand system, including the content itself, down to the cable headend and, finally, to the consumer.
CableLabs released two new VOD specs in September 2002: the 1.1 version of its VOD content spec, which covers elements such as metadata formatting and video encoding guidelines, and the 1.1 iteration of CableLabs' Asset Distribution Interface, which unifies how VOD assets such as movies are "pitched" and "caught" between the content aggregator and the cable operator's headend.
N2 said OpenStream creates a "plug-and-play" VOD environment, allowing operators to mix multiple video streaming servers and applications without having to rely on traditional, but mostly proprietary, equipment and software.
N2 said the new platform supports Scientific-Atlanta and Motorola Broadband digital systems, and is compatible with servers built by Broadbus Technologies, Concurrent Computer Corp., InfoValue, Kasenna Inc., Midstream Technologies, nCUBE Corp., SeaChange International and VideoPropulsion Inc.
N2 claimed that the core piece of the OpenStream platform is commercially deployed in 40 "major markets" and is already operational with Concurrent, nCUBE and SeaChange, and legacy billing system vendors.
N2 Broadband did not disclose those markets, but Time Warner Cable is by far N2's largest customer. Other N2 MSO customers include Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications, among others.
OpenStream allows operators "to choose the best VOD products from the best vendors," said N2 President and CEO Reggie Bradford, in a statement.
Though VOD marks the first application for OpenStream, new user interfaces, on-demand high-definition content and gaming could also fall under the platform's domain, N2 predicted.