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Akamai bolsters broadband video roster

The Web hosting company inks separate deals with streaming media giant RealNetworks and Virage, an image and video search engine maker.

Akamai has bolstered its broadband video lineup, inking separate deals with streaming media giant RealNetworks and Virage, an image and video search engine maker.

Both agreements signal the growing acceptance of the Web hosting company's business strategy, which focuses on streaming video and other applications that require a lot of bandwidth. Many other Web hosting companies offer complete packages.

Using technology licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Akamai puts hosting servers as close to customer locations as possible, helping to speed downloads of video and streaming video.

The RealNetworks alliance expands an existing relationship. Akamai, which had been using the RealSystem G2 for some streaming video, now will offer the product across all its servers.

The Web hosting company also agreed to make a $3.5 million private equity investment in Virage and will use the company's search engine for its video indexing and searching. This year, Virage cut content deals with Chalk.com, Lifetime and Yahoo, and it provides video search capabilities to online editions of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Akamai's investment in Virage follows $20 million in financing given in December by Reuters and Weston Presidio Capital and is expected to close concurrently with Virage's planned initial stock offering.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai's network consists of 2,750 Web servers in more than 45 countries, serving broadband cable and DSL providers as well as delivering select content to CNN, Yahoo and other customers. Akamai has more than doubled its customer base since the beginning of the year.