Cisco's Cr-3 Router - Streaming Media Players Drool

Cisco's CR-3 322 Terabyte carrier-grade router is three times faster that its predecessor CR-1 router. Not certain if this is a "change the Internet forever" product. However, it may be a tipping point for rich media providers if it is well adopted by carriers. Considering that carriers are constantly scrambling to keep up with capacity demand, its probably a very good possibility that sales of this $90,000 router will be brisk.

John Chambers hyberbolic messaging around the capabilities of the router focused on the benefits to rich media (in particular video), which has been clogging pipe for years. The scenario painted is massively available rich media streamed from the cloud. Basically, consumers and business everywhere will be able to access rich, high quality media streamed to any device at any time from the cloud with DRM protection on content.

The most obvious immediate beneficiary of this evolving content model is Netflix (NFLX), which would immediately benefit from a streamlined distirbution model for rented movies. Clearly, large media conglomerates that create and manage content would also benefit, as would content originators like sports leagues, musicians, and entertainers. So too would the surrounding ecoystems.

There are several Canadian technology companies that could immediately benefit from the network capacity gains offered by the CR-3 router. These three come to mind:

Intertainment (INT:TSXV) is a micro-cap media company that appears to have caught lightning in bottle with its Itibiti desktop streaming media widget. With NBC as an anchor customer, and with Microsoft choosing it as a reference Silverlight 4.0 deployment, Intertainment is building an influential client fan base for its always on widget. Using the widget, NBC streams content continuously to users while disintermediating the browser. By disintermediating the browser, fans can get entertained in fewer steps, and there is less chance that NBC has to pay Google for the privilege. A big win for NBC, and a big win for Microsoft's media business.

Neulion (NLN:TSX) is a small -cap media company and successor to JumpTV that operates online rich media sports programming for hundreds of NCAA schools, NHL, NFL, and MLS sports leagues. improved capacity for streaming media creates substantial opportunities for live data mashups, playlists, highlights, and rich easy-to-access inventoy of game footage and data. Increased capacity delivers more accessibility and more packaging, which delivers more revenue.

Fluid Music (FMN:TSX) is a small-cap media company that has amassed a low-cost royalty song portfolio. It utilizes multiple distribution and packaging methodologies to generate profits from the millions of songs in the catalog including: background music, packaged lifestyle music and consumer digital downloads via Puretracks. Actually, most of Fluid Music's $90 m in annualized revenue is generated from a small percentage of the total catalog. Although the music industry is on the forefront of streaming media, increased network capacity enables DRM compliant distribution, swapping, and packaging opportunities that were previously not possible. The bottom line for this company is that, by utilizing the cloud, it can generate more profit from the song catalog by providing better, more interesting access to more songs in the catalog.

There are probably dozens more Canadian companies that will directly benefit from increased network capacity, these are three publicly traded companies that come to mind immediately.

With respect to "changing the Internet forever" - there is no "forever" when it comes to the Internet. Grey hairs can remember 1999 when Napster bogged down the Internet as millions of people swapped millions of MP3s. At one point in time, carriers complained that Napster P2P file sharing represented 80% of traffic. Fast forward to 2007 when Bit Torrent P2P media file sharing caused similar capacity issues. The bottom line is that people will find ways to use up data capacity and carriers will always be scrambling for capacity. Wait until consumers begin swapping 3D movie files!

Disclosure: I do not own shares of any stocks mentioned above.

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