High-definition TV over low-cost Internet

Cut the cable, lose the satellite dish: ZiXi’s streaming Internet TV platform is better and cheaper, and it’s made in Israel. Zixi CEO Israel Drori. Disconnect those cables. Take those unsightly satellite dishes off your roof. Everything your TV needs …

Cut the cable, lose the satellite dish: ZiXi’s streaming Internet TV platform is better and cheaper, and it’s made in Israel.

Israel Drori

Zixi CEO Israel Drori.

Disconnect those cables. Take those unsightly satellite dishes off your roof. Everything your TV needs is in one cool Ethernet cable, the kind that connects your desktop computer to the Internet, says Israel Drori, CEO of ZiXi, the last word in high-definition TV transmission.

“Networks, content providers and production companies have been interested in high-quality, high-definition TV broadcasts over the Internet for a long time, but technical issues – especially the problem of bandwidth – have prevented the dream from becoming a reality,” Drori tells ISRAEL21c. “We are the first ones to be able to overcome those technical issues, allowing full quality TV to be streamed over the Internet.”

We’re not talking about YouTube, or even Hulu. These are broadcasts like those you would get from your cable or DBS provider and watch on television, with all the bells and whistles.

“Our system enables immediate channel zapping, eliminates startup delay, buffering, jitter and frame freeze for a superior quality experience,” says Drori. “We support any bit rate, up to full HD, over any distance using the Internet. And with the ZiXi system, providers can stream content for a lot less money than it would cost them using regular broadcast facilities.” Up to 80 percent less, that is.

It only seems like satellite

Considering all the pauses, skipping and dropouts many people experience when watching videos over the Internet, it’s hard to imagine how ZiXi can pull off a trick like streaming the highest quality video in crystal-clear quality. But this isn’t magic, says Drori; it’s basic network science.

“Nearly all service providers allocate only a small part of their network capacity to streaming content – so if you have, say, a 5- or 10-megabit-per-second connection, you’re using only 20% or so of that to receive content,” he explains. The reason has to do with the way Internet service providers take advantage of network protocols. ZiXi’s patented innovations make far greater use of network resources, he asserts.

“If the average ISP uses 20% of network capacity, we use 90%, so that even on smaller bandwidth connections, like 2 mbps, you are getting the maximum quality available.”

Some sites stream TV shows and movies over a hobble Internet, but those sites “cheat” — not just viewers, who get a poor quality product, but also the creators of the content, which often ends up lost in network translation.

“Nearly all ISPs and content providers using the Internet compress their broadcasts in order to fit it into the available bandwidth,” says Drori. “That cheats the viewer of the superior viewing experience they seek, and it cheats the program’s creator by preventing the nuances and quality they put into the work. With ZiXi, there is no need to compress video to fit into the network’s bandwidth, because we know how to take advantage of the bandwidth to fit the stream.”

Bottom line – ZiXi lets a content provider use the low-cost Internet for broadcasts of the same viewing quality as those coming over cable or satellite.

Kudos from the pros

ZiXi, which has about a dozen employees manning its R&D operations in Tel Aviv, as well as an office in the Boston area, has been around since 2006. It has quickly become recognized in the industry for its technology.

In 2009, ZiXi was named Top Technology Startup by NY Video, the world’s largest organization of web video entrepreneurs, and this year the company was awarded Broadcast Engineering’s Pick Hit Award, considered the most prestigious technical award given at the annual show of the National Association of Broadcasters.

ZiXi was also chosen as a finalist in the inaugural ConnectedWorld.TV awards presented on September 12 at the International Broadcast Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam.

“We have dozens of partners around the world already using our platform,” says Drori. “Some of them using ZiXi as a backup for their existing systems, and others completely moving to IP delivery of video content.”

Those who switch to ZiXi are in for a pleasant surprise, Drori adds. It’s a lot cheaper to set up an Internet connection for streaming broadcasts than it is to set up a cable or satellite broadcasting system, so ZiXi customers save as much as 70% to 80% on their equipment outlay.

In April, the company received $4 million in an additional funding round led by Schooner Capital, along with Sidney Topol, the former chairman and CEO of Scientific Atlanta, and Maurice “Reese” Schonfeld, the co-founder of CNN. Drori expects the startup to start turning a profit in the next couple of years.