Comcast Outlines Next-Gen IP Video Distribution Strategy

Comcast details a next-generation approach to video content delivery in a patent application published on Thursday.

Weidong Mao
Weidong Mao

Comcast fellow Weidong Mao and John Bevilacqua, executive director of network architecture, are named as inventors on the patent application titled, “Dynamically Switched Multicast Delivery.” It was filed in April. 

Abstract: According to some aspects, methods and systems may include receiving, by computing device from one or more client devices, a plurality of requests for one or more content items formatted in a first format and determining whether to multicast the one or more content items based on a data structure configured with one or more conditions associated with multicasting content. The methods and systems may also include transmitting, to the one or more client devices, the one more content items via one or more multicast streams if the requests meet a first condition of the one or more conditions. The methods and systems may also include formatting the one or more content items in a second format prior to the transmitting if network resources fail to meet a second condition of the one or more conditions.

John Bevilacqua
John Bevilacqua

Patent Application

Claims:

1. A method comprising: receiving, by computing device from one or more client devices, a plurality of requests for one or more content items formatted in a first format; determining whether to multicast the one or more content items based on a data structure configured with one or more conditions associated with multicasting content; and if the requests meet a first condition of the one or more conditions, then transmitting, to the one or more client devices, the one more content items via one or more multicast streams, wherein if network resources fail to meet a second condition of the one or more conditions, then formatting the one or more content items in a second format prior to the transmitting.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein transmitting the one more content items via one or more multicast streams further comprises transmitting the one or more content items formatted in the first format.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the one or more content items formatted in the first format are transmitted in response to determining that the network resources meet the second condition.

4. The method of claim 2, wherein transmitting the one or more content items formatted in the first format further comprises transmitting the one or more content items in a format different than the second format.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein in response to determining that the requests fail to meet the first condition, then transmitting, to the one or more client devices, the one or more content items via one or more unicast streams.

6. The method of claim 1, further comprising determining that at least one multicast stream transmitting the one or more content items is set up prior to the transmitting, wherein transmitting the one or more content items further comprises transmitting the one or more content items via the at least one multicast stream that is already set up.

7. The method of claim 6, wherein transmitting the one or more content items via the at least one multicast stream that is already set up further comprises transmitting the one or more content items formatted in the first format.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein the first condition comprises a threshold number of received requests, and wherein the method further comprises determining whether a number of the plurality of requests for the one or more content items formatted in the first format meets the threshold number of received requests.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein the second condition comprises a threshold bandwidth availability, and wherein the method further comprises determining whether an available bandwidth of a network associated with the computing device meets the threshold bandwidth availability.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein the requests comprise identification of a first set of one or more content parameters, and wherein formatting the one or more content items in the second format further comprises formatting the one or more content items in accordance with a second set of one or more content parameters.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein the one or more content parameters comprise one or more of the following: a resolution associated with the one or more content items, a bitrate associated with the one or more content items, a codec associated with the one or more content items, or a packaging format associated with the one or more content items.

12. The method of claim 10, wherein transmitting the one or more client items further comprises: transmitting the one or more content items in accordance with the second set of one or more content parameters; modifying at least one of the one or more content parameters in the second set of one or more content parameters to adjust the network resources; and in response to determining that the network resources meet the second condition, transmitting the one or more content items in accordance with the modified second set of one or more content parameters.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the modified second set of one or more content parameters is different than the first set of one or more content parameters.

14. The method of claim 1, wherein determining whether to multicast one or more content items further comprises determining whether to multicast the one or more content items based on whether two or more of the one or more client devices are associated with a common geographical location.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein if a number of the requests, received from a first set of one or more client devices associated with a first common geographical location, meets the first condition, then transmitting, to the first set of one or more client devices, the one more content items via the one or more multicast streams.

16. A method comprising: receiving, by a computing device from one or more client devices that comprise a first client device, a plurality of requests for content formatted in a first format; and determining whether to transmit the content formatted in the first format to the first client device via unicast transmission or via multicast transmission by comparing a number of the requests with a threshold number of received requests for the content formatted in the first format.

17. The method of claim 16, further comprising delaying the multicast transmission by a predetermined amount of time that begins after receiving the requests for the content formatted in the first format.

18. The method of claim 16, further comprising determining whether to transmit the content formatted in a second format different than the first format based on available network resources.

19. A method comprising: receiving, by a computing device from a plurality of client devices, a plurality of requests for content; determining whether to multicast or unicast the content based on current network conditions and one or more attributes associated with each of the requests; and transmitting, based on the determining, the content formatted with one or more content parameters to one or more of the plurality of client devices.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein in response to insufficient current network conditions, transmitting, to a first subset of the plurality of client devices, the content via a unicast transmission while transmitting, to a second subset of the plurality of client, the content formatted with the one or more content parameters via a multicast transmission.