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RealTime IT News

On the Record with Peter Desnoes

Move over Akamai . There's a new streaming media sheriff in town. Is iBeam Broadcasting a content delivery giant in the making?

Through a unique combination of satellites and fiber optics, iBeam Broadcasting has created a next generation network for the delivery of streaming media content.

As part of its plan, iBeam has enlisted big name investors like Intel and Microsoft in its streaming media crusade, while forming partnerships with leading ISPs like America Online and ExciteAtHome .

For now, though, Wall Street appears to be under enthused by iBeam's game plan. At a recent $9 a share, the company's stock price is trading slightly below is initial public offering price of $10 back in mid-May.

With revenue of only $3.4 million and losses of over $33 million last quarter alone, it's not hard to see why. Before the April Net stock meltdown, this might have been a different story, but right now, story stocks are a tough sell.

We recently caught up with iBeam Broadcasting chief Peter Desnoes to learn more about iBeam's long-term plans in its battle against Akamai.

ISR: Let's start off by you giving us a brief overview of iBeam.

Desnoes: Sure. We are the premier or dominant streaming media network providing streaming media services to various content creators.

ISR: Okay, can we talk a little about the satellite and optics technology underlying your service?

Desnoes: Let me kind of explain or begin by saying- and forgive me for stating the obvious- but the Internet was never designed to do what we're now asking it to do. So what does one need to do in order to permit streaming content - particularly broadband content, but even non-broadband content - to work on the Internet? Packet loss is a problem that is not getting any better. The average piece of content travels on average through four different networks. Seventeen to twenty three different routers handle it. There are public and private peering points that have congestion. Congestion on the Internet is death to streaming.

ISR: Yes. It makes for a jumbled mess!

Desnoes: UDP - the protocol for streaming - is one which does not easily permit the retrieval of lost packets and even if retrieved would probably not get there in time to allow the streaming media experience to function very effectively. That's why we have jitters, break up and audio out of sync with video and re-buffering. It clearly doesn't work. So what are the things that people need to do to overcome these problems? One of them is the creation of a video transport layer. That is the encapsulation of the packets of data so that if you can't monitor the protocol for the streaming content itself, a video transport layer - that which iBeam has developed and is its core technology- enables us to manage and monitor content over our own network. It doesn't matter whether that network is satellite or fiber.

ISR: So you're really pushing content to the edge of the network and closest to each end user?

Desnoes: Well, that's where I was going to next. But before you even get there. The majority of content is going to go over a traditional network. The ultimate objective is to be able to bypass the traditional Internet backbone. It will be some time before we get there. Right now, iBeam - to skip ahead a bit - has contracts in place with access providers that give us between 25 and 40 percent of the Internet eyeballs that can be delivered by satellite from the edge. But even at that, that still means that somewhere between 65 and 70 percent of all the eyeballs are not going to be delivered from the edge by satellite.

ISR: Right. So what does that mean?

Desnoes: If the majority of traffic is still going to go over a traditional backbone to last mile providers of one kind of another, what can we do that can enab