The video streaming market will be worth almost $200m by 2006, according to a new report.
The study by telecoms researcher Analysys shows that video streaming is fast becoming a reality for businesses. As a result the market in western Europe is expected to grow almost tenfold in the next five years, with most growth occurring in 2005.
The main drivers for the increase will be corporate communications, training and marketing, and enhanced investor relations.
Margaret Hopkins, principal analyst and author of the report, said: "Video streaming provides instantaneous corporate communication in a very engaging and emotionally forceful manner.
"A small to medium sized enterprise can now produce a webcast of its chairman's address using a digital camera costing a few hundred dollars and free download software for encoding and playing the resulting stream."
According to Hopkins, a company wanting decent video streaming will need to engage third-party specialists for content creation - video capture, editing and encoding, and content delivery - which ensures that users get a reasonable video experience.
Telcos have been pushing video for decades as something that will consume large amounts of bandwidth and hence drive up revenues. But the price of access to bandwidth is still high enough for corporate users to go out of their way to avoid buying more of it than they must.
Instead, companies are likely to go for new techniques that involve content delivery networks (CDNs) and IP multicast to get round bottlenecks.
An immediate opportunity for service providers lies in helping IT and network managers implement support for video, through consultancy services, and through intranet CDNs either in-house or outsourced to the CDN service providers.
The key problem to be overcome for the service provider model is the reluctance of many network managers to allow service providers behind the firewall which is necessary to solve the access problems at large sites.
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