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QuickPlay stretches its video wings

Wed, 10/12/2011 - 9:05am
Brad Smith, Wireless Week

On one of the hills in the northern San Diego suburbs is an anonymous-looking office park.

Hidden behind the plain buildings is a satellite dish farm, the only clue to what's inside. This is one of the most sophisticated network operations centers in the world, outfitted some years ago by Qualcomm's Flo TV operation but owned by QuickPlay Media since July.

The NOC is stuffed with racks for data storage and video transmission technology, using satellite dishes and fiber to receive video and audio feeds and then redistributing the IP content to carriers like AT&T to ultimately reach consumers.

The 30,000-square foot NOC is very similar to what Qualcomm designed, although QuickPlay has added equipment and its own technology. The big question is whether QuickPlay, headquartered in Toronto, can make a success of its distribution model where Flo TV failed.

Wayne Purboo, CEO, told a group of analysts and journalists on a tour of the facility that he's confident the 8-year-old company can continue to grow both its content library and its carrier customers.

Purboo described QuickPlay's business as a cloud-based video headend that "knocks down barriers" to video delivery on any connected device. The company, named by Deloitte Technology last year as the 18th-fastest-growing technology company in Canada, serves AT&T U-verse, Siruis XM Radio, Bell Mobility, Motorola Mobility, Rogers Communications, RIM and Sony Pictures. In its selection, Deloitte noted that QuickPlay's revenues grew 1,347 percent from 2005 to 2009.

Purboo declined to go into detail about the San Diego NOC acquisition but, saying it was a "buy vs. build decision," he hinted he felt QuickPlay got a good deal from Qualcomm. "This is probably the best facility in the world to deliver content," he said, adding that "video over IP has been a sideshow until now."

QuickPlay now has three NOCs, with the other two in Toronto and Denver. Purboo said some of the Toronto staff had moved to San Diego but that he didn't expect any major changes at any of the sites.

Purboo said QuickPlay's main competition is from in-house content delivery by content owners, but he said the new NOC is more attractive to these media companies because of the current economy. QuickPlay can show an attractive alternative to companies considering building their own NOC, he said.

Consumers, he said, will invariably use the largest video screen they have to watch video. Consumers are unlikely to watch much full-length video programming on mobile phones, using them more for short clips while using tablets or even larger screens for longer programs.

The San Diego NOC is enabling QuickPlay to add new features and programming, including live events like the 2011 Super Bowl and 2010 FIFA World Cup, and more will be announced in the months ahead, Purboo said, hinting the company may also expand its reach into new global markets.

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