Posted by : Randy Cooper in (CDN)

Akamai now providing VBR support for iPhone, iPod touch

akamai-logoA who’s who listing of North American broadcasters are taking part in long-time Apple multimedia content streaming partner’s technology showcase to delivering top-shelf programming to the small screen. That said, the guest list is stellar, the timing impeccable, though delivery doesn’t seem to be up to scratch.

Akamai Technologies has announced variable bit rate streaming (VBR) support for live and high quality video content on the iPhone and iPod touch with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Discovery, FOX News, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, MTV, NPR, Turner Sports and USA TODAY all participating in this groundbreaking new service.

“Apple’s extensive support for new web standards like HTML 5 and HTTP streaming of live and on-demand video to the iPhone and iPod touch has transformed the quality of video content that consumers can now view while mobile,” said Tim Napoleon, Chief Strategist Digital Media at Akamai. “To be able to watch video anytime, anywhere at a quality this high is nothing short of amazing.”

The company is offering white papers on the subject covering the technology and partners behind this service.

Hands on

After an initial rocky start (ie stuff wouldn’t load), the network infrastructure provider’s showcase looks great, though it seems to all be canned content, including oddly enough Fox Business News. Canned business news.

That said, the quality of service isn’t exactly stellar. On the 7Mbps Roadrunner connection—one-eighth of a mile from Time Warner’s data center—that I call home, content loading was spotty at best. Also, it’s not unusual for streams to stop, which is wrong.

Of course, if this showcase can’t deliver high quality of service on a fixed connection, what chance is there that it will perform well with a device switching on the fly between 3G, EDGE and wi-fi connections? Not good.

Actual live content with the occasional hiccup would be one thing, but failure after failure to deliver cached content doesn’t impress. Interestingly, although it loads and plays more consistently on my Mac, the various short-form programs are also more likely to hiccup and time out.

Are these problems related to Time Warner? Has the user response to Akamai’s showcase just been too overwhelming? Whatever.

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