Verizon to launch digital media service in July

Service will automate connection of media content to any device via IP network

Verizon announced a digital media utility service on Monday designed to help advertising, media and entertainment companies automate delivery of on-demand content to consumers on their TVs, smartphones and tablets.

The service, under development at Verizon for nearly three years, is currently in a second beta with nine charter content-creation companies and will be available for commercial release sometime in July, said David Rips, president of the division overseeing the project, called Verizon Digital Media Services.

Digital content will be taken from content creators and delivered using Verizon's global IP network and two new secure data centers in southern California and northern Virginia, Rips said.

"We are going to be the world's first fully automated, end-to-end digital media utility that generates enormous economies of scale and true unicast [media] streams to any device, on any platform, at any time that consumers want it, on demand," Rips said in an interview.

One benefit to content creators is that they won't need to customize content to fit specific devices that range in physical size and run different operating systems, Rips said. About 200 Verizon developers have worked on the project, in addition to hundreds of other Verizon staff.

"It will the right version for the device, with the right ads that are contextually selected and [automatically] inserted," Rips said.

Terry Cudmore, an analyst at Yankee Group, said the service will probably be sold to retailers as well as content providers of all types. "This will make their lives a lot easier and should be interesting to them," he said.

"It's a fairly big deal and right now you couldn't call anybody else a real competitor, so Verizon can almost set the market for the space," Cudmore said. Verizon hasn't revealed the costs for the service, he added.

Distribution of TV and other traditional media content to tablets and other devices is a hot focus of various networking companies.

Cable company Cablevision recently launched a live TV iPad app to allow its customers to view their cable TV subscription channels through their iPads in their homes.

Time Warner Cable also offers a live TV iPad app.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at  @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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