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Startup Pitches Cable-Friendly Peer-to-Peer Play

Peer-To-Peer Technology tends to get a bad rap in cable-technology circles. Historically, it’s been known as a bandwidth hog and an approach that applies major stress to the upstream path of the high-speed data network.

Teltoo, a startup based in Madrid, Spain, is looking to alter that conversation with a cable- and ISP-friendly approach to P2P that is designed to allow partners to manage how bandwidth is allocated while also driving much more scale into over-the-top video, particularly for the highly-viewed “tentpole” TV events that have wreaked havoc on some OTT video players, including a new breed of virtual MVPDs.

Teltoo’s approach is not related to BitTorrent and other P2P technologies that are out there today, company co-founder and CEO Pablo Hesse stressed.

“This is a technology for cable operators and traditional broadcasters to help them to distribute streams over the internet,” and do so without buffering or other types of technical interruptions, he said.

Bandwidth-Sharing Is Caring

While most of today’s streaming platforms try to answer the scaling issue by deploying more servers and infrastructure, Teltoo’s P2P system strives for higher levels of availability and stability by allowing users to share bandwidth.

Under its architecture, Teltoo implements a small piece of JavaScript on its partner’s streaming video player for everything from laptops, to mobile devices and even set-top boxes. In tandem, those players are connected using WebRTC, an open Internet standard that supports real-time communication and can run on HTML5, making it agnostic for the viewer and eliminating the need for separate plug-ins. Behind that is a server that represents the “brain” of the solution and manages the connections while a live stream is being delivered.

Teltoo is also designed to be agnostic in other ways, Hesse said, as it can support various encoders and digital rights management systems and products.

The result, the company claims, can help its partners offload of as much as 83% of bandwidth for those streams. In practice, that kind of number, of course, could be of keen interest to cable operators as well as programmers that are delivering more and more of their content over-the-top.

In fact, Teltoo’s approach is already getting some traction, as the startup is doing some work with Liberty Global as well as RTVE, Spain’s state broadcaster.

More recently, Teltoo, a company with founders who came from such companies as HP and NDS, was one of four startups selected by UpRamp’s “Fiterator” program. That initiative, run by the CableLabsbacked accelerator, enables its picks to get valuable exposure with cable operators alongside guaranteed commercial deals. In exchange, UpRamp gets a small equity stake (usually in the form of warrants) in the startups picked for the program.

Before it was recruited for the UpRamp program, Teltoo and its team went through the Virgin Media Accelerator held in London last year.

Opportunities in OTT, TVE

“We think there’s a real opportunity with TV everywhere and over-the-top [video] across our 60-odd members right now,” Scott Brown, UpRamp’s executive director, said.

Teltoo’s technology and product set “has gotten to the point that it’s applicable to the rest of the industry,” Brown added.

Brown also acknowledges that P2P typically has been a “third-rail conversation” with cable operators because of the asynchronous nature of their bandwidth (most deliver much more downstream capacity than upstream capacity).

“The reason why we think Teltoo has an advantage and opportunity to succeed in the cable space is the network management layer that they bring to this, where the MSO can actually control the level and quality and amount of up-bound bandwidth that’s used in this managed P2P.”