A Silicon Valley startup which uses satellite broadcasting to bring streaming media to Internet users has received $42 million in funding from Microsoft, Covad Communications, Intel and other investors.
The investment will allow iBeam Broadcasting, which now operates a network capable of delivering 300,000 multimedia streams simultaneously, to expand its capacity to one million simultaneous streams by the end of 2001. The company will also expand its network to deliver audio and video Internet streaming.
According to Peter Desnoes, chief executive of iBeam Broadcasting, the company has developed three unique streaming technologies that allow the iBeam network to reach larger audiences than its competition.
The first technology is the iBeam MaxCaster servers, intelligent devices deployed at multiple locations to serve streaming content.
The two other proprietary streaming technologies, iDirector and iRelay, also intelligently distribute content across the network. iDirector monitors the network in real time, and iRelay allows for the reliable updating of the distributed network of iBeam MaxCasters.
Desnoes pointed out that this approach is much more efficient than the traditional unicast approach, where each user is issued a separate copy of the same stream.
SkyCache and Edgix are among those that have also entered this segment.
Desnoes also said iBeam has reached agreements to provide streaming distribution services for a new set of online multimedia companies, including AtomFilms, FasTV.com, Launch.com, Pseudo.com and ValueVision International.
The company has also signed a deal with Encoding.com to provide services that clients need to convert multimedia content into a digital format suitable for online delivery.
iBeam, which uses Hughes Network Systems satellites, believes its system is more efficient and can deliver content at a lower cost than land-based lease line connections such as T1s. Charles Rutstein, analyst at Forrester Research, said: "From the users' perspective, all they know is that they're getting the content fast."
The company has also worked closely with Microsoft and Real Networks to develop transparent interception of streaming media.
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