EdgeStream Tackles the Middle Mile

“#$&%# Net congestion!”

Little-known software firm EdgeStream is promising to delete streaming media
congestion and buffering aggravation with the launch of a delivery network
that allows interruption-free feature-length movies at up to 1 Mbps or more.

The Laguna Hills, Calif.-based company, which has spent the last two years
quietly testing the service, said Wednesday its “Next Generation” Streaming
Video Delivery Network (SVDN) and hosting services would tackle the age-old
“middle mile” problem for content providers.

EdgeStream said its Internet Congestion Breakthrough (ICB) transport
technology, which integrates a host of different technologies to allow a
media file, even at higher bit rates of a megabit or more, to be streamed
real-time over the Internet without packet loss.

Because the technology is not compression-based, EdgeStream said there would
be no degradation in the quality of the encoded file. “As long as the end
user has sufficient bandwidth to receive the streamed file, they will
receive the data without interruption or rebuffering.”

A demo page
on the company’s site shows off the new technology, which requires the
download and installation of an EdgeStream plug-in.

“Even after the billions of dollars that have been thrown at the congestion
problem by the first generation of delivery services, software developers
and hardware manufacturers, the promise of reliable, quality streaming
across the public Internet seemed so disappointingly unachievable,” said
EdgeStream CEO Vinod Sodhi.

“Today however, anyone, from anywhere in the world, can go to our web site,
and if they have enough bandwidth at the last mile, can stream a 1 Mbps
video from our network. End users in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, England and
Germany have already watched 1 Mbps videos, full screen and without the
interruptions and rebuffering that have been typical of Internet streaming
in the past,” Sodhi added

The EdgeStream service, which appears to be targeting B2B content delivery
firms, supports the popular RealOne and Windows media players. Plans are in
place to develop support for QuickTime over the next few months. “We want to
support all the major media players that people use today and believe that
we have a complementary technology to the Corona FastStream initiative by
Microsoft and Real’s TurboStream application,” the company said.

At first blush, streaming media analysts see a huge upside to the EdgeStream
service but there are questions about the viability of the company’s

“There are a lot of questions but, at first glance, the upside is that
EdgeStream can reach down to the user’s desktop, unlike Akamai or Digital
Island. Current streaming solutions don’t have a way to measure performance
over the last mile, which is key,” said Aberdeen Group streaming media
analyst Michael Hoch.

Hoch said EdgeStream’s monitoring client, which can deliver information on
how a stream is being consumed at the desktop level goes a step further in
the race to make streaming media a staple on the Internet. “For streaming,
you need to have this last-mile monitoring. The question is how visible is
the client or how hard it is to install,” he said.

Hoch also questioned the company’s business model, arguing that it’s
difficult to survive as a standalone company offering specialized services
in the streaming media sector. “Content providers want technology partners
who offer all the services. We’ve seen it with Akamai… They succeeded
initially but they are facing challenges right now.”

Despite the questions, EdgeStream’s Sodhi remains undaunted. “We have a
solution, it works, its ready and we’re open for business.” said Mr. Sodhi.
“We’re not making promises, we’re delivering on the promise and we’re doing
it today.”

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