Report: Apple and Comcast discussing dedicated bandwidth for video streaming


— 10:30 AM on March 24, 2014

Apple may not release its own TV, but the company still seems to have big plans for video streaming. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is working with Comcast to secure dedicated bandwidth on the service provider's network. That bandwidth would reportedly be used to stream not only live programming, but also on-demand content.

Interestingly, the supposed deal wouldn't prioritize Apple's packets over other Internet traffic. It sounds like Apple would get a reserved portion of Comcast's pipe, much like existing cable TV and telephone services. Preferential treatment would extend to the so-called "last mile," ensuring smooth content delivery all the way to users' homes. The service is said to be powered by Apple's own set-top box, though it's unclear whether current Apple TV devices would be compatible.

The WSJ's sources say Apple and Comcast aren't close to reaching a deal—and that Apple still needs to secure content deals to fuel the service. Interestingly, though, having dedicated bandwidth for video streaming has reportedly been on Cupertino's radar for a while. "People familiar with the matter" told the WSJ that Apple had similar discussion with Time Warner Cable as early as mid-2012. Comcast announced plans acquired Time Warner Cable in February, which is probably why it's part of the discussion now.

Meeting Apple's requirements would reportedly require substantial investments from Comcast. Sources say Apple also wants a cut of Comcast's monthly fees and control over customer data, but that may be asking too much. "Comcast wants to retain significant control over the relationship with customers and the data," the WSJ adds.

Netflix recently reached a deal with Comcast to ensure better streaming quality for subscribers. Instead of giving Netflix traffic preferential treatment, that agreement establishes more direct connections between Netflix and Comcast servers. The Apple deal that's said to be on the table is also careful to avoid prioritizing network traffic in the public stream, though reserving a chunk of Comcast's pipe would presumably make less bandwidth available to other Internet services.

   
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