Supply Side is a series of interviews with suppliers of products and services.
Privately owned Vantrix is headquartered in Montreal with offices in London, Beijing and Dubai. This e-mail interview is with Patrick Lopez, chief marketing officer of the company.
RW: What is Vantrix?
Lopez: Vantrix is an industry-leading provider of content adaptation and optimization solutions for converged wireless, broadband and cable networks. Vantrix offers a comprehensive suite of solutions that deliver any multimedia content to any device, focusing on the best possible user experience to drive consumer adoption of premium services like MMS, mobile TV, user-generated content and video on demand.
RW: What is the company's business model?
Lopez: Seventy-five percent of our sales are conducted through our worldwide channel partners, including Ericsson, NSN and Huawei. Our direct sales force makes up the remaining 25 percent of annual sales. We are increasingly deploying our solutions in converged networks, bridging the gap between cable, Internet, broadband and wireless, providing a cohesive user experience on rich multimedia content and services.
Our expertise is in media processing. We can ingest media from any source (Internet, wireless user-generated content, analog and digital TV), in any format (richest codec portfolio on the market) for any destination (TV/set-top box, PC, wireless devices) on any channel (TV, radio, browsing, download, messaging, streaming).
Our business model is an infrastructure sale with one-time setup fee and traffic-based licensing.
RW: What radio broadcast clients do you have?
Lopez: We do have radio broadcast clients, among them some very recognizable names. Some other customers include Thumbplay, Motricity, SendMe and EMT-Estonia, along with some of the world's top-tier telecom companies.
Patrick Lopez RW: Why is what you do important for a U.S. radio station manager?
Lopez: Radio play, advertising and mobile TV as standalone business models are not ready for profitability. Being able to create an ecosystem for the ingestion, optimization, management and delivery of multimedia content is key to service success.
Our solutions offer the listener, or end user, the ability to have the best user and listening experience possible on any device anywhere. Radio station managers should be aware that even though they might create great programming, the experience of the listener is not only about the programming, but about the delivery method and the technology behind it.
RW: How well has radio responded to the challenges of streaming across multiple screens and wireless devices?
Lopez: Steps are being taken to move forward in the radio industry, but as with mobile TV or video on demand, radio programs and streaming radio need to go the next level.
User experience is crucial, so it is mandatory to deliver the most consistent stream of sound and video for each device and network variation. It is possible for radio and radio programming to stream across the three screens just like any other multimedia, such as video and user-generated content. But the only way to profitably introduce these new services is on a modular platform that is able to help with management of the bandwidth necessary for the rollout of the radio stream. Plus, partnering with network providers can ensure delivery of a seamless experience.
RW: Why is streaming radio to mobile devices and across PC and cable "harder than it sounds," as one of your spokespeople told us?
Lopez: Streaming radio faces similar challenges as video. There is a lot of fragmentation in the industry, including access network technology, network variations, device type, native codecs, media formats, operating system and network speeds. The only challenge that may not affect radio as much as video is the device screen resolution, but regardless there is fragmentation in audio output due to handset diversity.
RW: What is Vantrix's value-add to users over a straight iPhone's (or other platform's) radio app? Is it a broader menu of content — with UGC, TV, etc. — than, say, Radiolicious or iheartradio? Or is there a technical improvement?
Lopez: Vantrix value-add is Vantrix Media Streamer, which is a high-performance streaming engine with packet replication for unicast (one feed in, one feed out) and broadcast scenarios (one feed in, many feeds out). It can ingest 3GPP-compliant multi-rate files and dynamically switch between statically provisioned stream rates in the media file.
RW: How and what do you deliver as radio services? Are these "pushed" services in which a user selects from a list? If so, are these your own or exclusive "radio" streams; or are they set up by deals with specific stations/providers (pay to play)? Or can any station opt in for free?
Lopez: Our services are neither pushed to the end user nor pulled. We ingest content for network operators and optimize the content for viewing and listening. The end user benefits from our technology from a listening and viewing standpoint.
Vantrix Media Broadcaster enables rich multimedia services such as video on demand, mobile and Web TV and radio, advanced video telephony, user-generated content, video share and many other services in mobile, broadband and cable networks.
Video and audio are delivered optimally regardless of the access network technology, device type, screen size and resolution, native codecs, media formats, operating system and network speeds. Operators can now roll out premium and advertising-supported mobile video and audio services that take full advantage of high-speed networks, accelerating return on investment on their infrastructure cap-ex and diversifying their revenue streams.
Information about the company can be found atwww.vantrix.com.