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A trio of multimedia

Intel, Cisco, and MCI will preview technologies for delivering high-quality, real-time video and audio over the Internet.

Intel (INTC), Cisco Systems, (CSCO), and MCI Telecommunications (MCIC) will preview technologies for delivering high-quality, real-time video and audio over the Internet at the upcoming Networld+Interop show this month.

Cisco and Intel are leading the effort by making technology available designed to mitigate Internet bandwidth and latency problems with data-intensive multimedia applications, specifically IP Multicast, Resource Reservation Protocol (RSVP), and Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) technologies.

The three new technologies are invisible to the end user but can work together to open up the Internet pipe so that multimedia can flow through more easily. IP Multicast, an integral feature of the TCP/IP protocol, was designed so that a single transmission can service hundreds or thousands of Multicast receivers. An IP Multicast-enabled server can transmit a single multimedia stream to any PC client outfitted with viewer software.

RSVP allows software developers to "reserve" bandwidth on the Internet to deliver real-time video and audio streams. Without RSVP, multimedia streams are subject to breakup because of overall congestion on the Internet, but with it, the developer can arrange in advance to have a clear channel for real-time delivery of multimedia programming.

RTP is a packet format that works on networking problems peculiar to the Internet that can interfere with the delivery of multimedia packets; specifically, it enables synchronization and recovery from delay variation and packet loss. It also provides a standard format for a variety of audio and video encodings so that they can be used among different application software products without modification.

MCI is doing its part by implementing a massive upgrade to its backbone, scheduled to be completed by later this year, to accommodate these three technologies as Cisco and Intel use them in their software.

Cisco is providing a new version of Cisco IOSO software that enables IP Multicast, RSVP, and RTP. While none of these technologies are proprietary to Cisco or Intel, Cisco's IOSO technology is the industry's first implementation of the RSVP protocol, the company said.

For its part, Intel is supplying PC-RSVP software that works with its ProShare videoconferencing program to let ProShare users take advantage of the RSVP software by signing up for bandwidth in advance of scheduled videoconferences. Intel's PC-RSVP software, which can run on Windows 95 or NT, lets software make RSVP connections to routers supporting RSVP such as Cisco's so that servers and PC clients can advantage of the upgraded technologies.

Intel licensed its PC-RSVP software to Microsoft in August for use in future versions of the Windows operating systems and is now making it available to other Internet multimedia application software developers.

Cisco's IOSO software and Intel's PC-RSVP are the underlying technologies used in networked multimedia trials currently being conducted by Cisco, Intel, and MCI. A demonstration of these technologies, using an RSVP-enabled beta version of Intel's ProShare Presenter and the upgraded version of Cisco IOSO software, will be shown at the Intel and MCI booths at the Networld+Interop show this month in Atlanta.