TWC Wins Multicast Video Delivery Patent

Time Warner Cable won a U.S. patent on Tuesday for a content delivery approach that would rely on a combination of multicast and unicast video streaming over the Internet.

TWC SVP of Broadband Engineering and Technology Howard Pfeffer is named as the inventor on the patent, titled, “Apparatus and Methods for Multicast Delivery of Content in a Content Delivery Network.”

Abstract: Methods and apparatus for providing persistent multicast delivery of content to devices within a network. In one embodiment, a webserver is provided to determine whether requested content is to be provided via a persistent multicast. If a multicast is not to be provided, the requesting device is instructed to query a unicast server. If a multicast is to be provided, the requesting device is instructed to query an entity for joining the multicast. After joining the multicast, the entity processes and provides the content to the requesting device as a unicast stream. In one variant, a web persistent port which is assigned by the entity to receive the multicast comprises a WebSocket compatible TCP port and the requesting device runs a WebSocket compatible media player. The webserver tracks requests to identify “popular” content to be delivered as a multicast. Content protection schemes and trick mode functions are also provided.

Patent

Claims:

  1. A method for providing Internet Protocol (IP) packetized content to a client device, said method comprising: receiving at a gateway apparatus a request for access to said IP packetized content from a client device, said request comprising a request for access to a document object associated to said IP packetized content; assigning a transmission control protocol (TCP) port for a persistent socket connection to provide said requested IP packetized content; providing to said client device, in response to said request, a uniform resource locator (URL) for said persistent socket connection; receiving a request to enable said TCP port and access said requested IP packetized content from said client device; in response to receiving said request, said gateway apparatus joining a multicast for providing said requested IP packetized content; processing said requested IP packetized content received via said multicast; and providing said requested IP packetized content to said client device as a unicast thereto.
  1. The method of claim 1, wherein said act of processing comprises converting said content from a multicast format to a unicast format.
  1. The method of claim 1, further comprising storing at least a portion of said received IP packetized content in a local cache associated to said gateway apparatus.
  1. The method of claim 3, further comprising using said stored at least portion of said IP packetized content to enable a viewer at said client device to perform one or more trick mode operations with respect to said IP packetized content.
  1. The method of claim 1, wherein said persistent socket connection comprises a WebSocket connection and said client device is configured to run a media player compatible with said WebSocket connection.
  1. The method of claim 5, wherein said media player is further configured to determine one or more rights of said client device and/or a user thereof to said IP packetized content.
  1. An apparatus configured to provide Internet Protocol (IP) packetized content to a client device, said apparatus comprising: at least one interface configured to receive a multicast comprising said IP packetized content via a persistent socket connection; at least one interface configured to provide a unicast comprising said IP packetized content to said client device; and at least one processor configured to execute at least one computer program thereon, said computer program comprising a plurality of instructions which are configured to, when executed: receive a request for access to said IP packetized content from said client device, said request comprising a uniform resource locator (URL) provided from a managed webserver; receive a request to enable a TCP port assigned to deliver said requested IP packetized content via said persistent socket connection; and join a multicast configured to provide said requested IP packetized content.
  1. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein said plurality of instructions are further configured to, when executed, exit said multicast upon completion of delivery of said requested IP packetized content
  1. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein said plurality of instructions are further configured to, when execute, process a received multicast comprising said IP packetized content.
  1. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein said multicast is processed via network address translation to modify IP address information in IP packet headers of said IP packetized content to reference a unicast delivery address.
  1. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein said plurality of instructions are further configured to, when executed: select one or more second IP packetized content based at least in part on a determination of future interest in said one or more second IP packetized content; cause at least a portion of said one or more second IP packetized content to be stored at a storage entity in communication with said apparatus; and upon request therefor, deliver said stored one or more second IP packetized content.
  1. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said plurality of instructions are further configured to, when executed, simultaneous to said delivery, join a multicast of said one or more second IP packetized content upon said user request therefor.
  1. Computer readable apparatus comprising media configured to contain a computer program having a plurality of instructions, said plurality of instructions configured to, when executed: receive a first request for access to IP packetized content from a client device, said request comprising a request for access to a document object associated to said IP packetized content; assign a transmission control protocol (TCP) port for a persistent socket connection to provide said requested IP packetized content; provide to said client device, in response to said request, a uniform resource locator (URL) for said persistent socket connection; receive a second request to enable said TCP port and access said requested IP packetized content from said client device; in response to said receipt of said second request, join a multicast configured to provide said requested IP packetized content; process said requested IP packetized content received via said multicast; and provide said requested IP packetized content to said client device as a unicast thereto.
  1. The computer readable apparatus of claim 13, wherein said plurality of instructions are further configured to, when executed, convert said content from a multicast format to a unicast format.
  1. The computer readable apparatus of claim 13, wherein said plurality of instructions are further configured to, when executed, store at least a portion of said received IP packetized content in a local cache.
  1. The computer readable apparatus of claim 15, wherein said plurality of instructions are further configured to, when executed, use said stored at least portion of said IP packetized content to enable a viewer at said client device to perform one or more trick mode operations with respect to said IP packetized content.
  1. The computer readable apparatus of claim 13, wherein said persistent socket connection comprises a WebSocket connection and said client device is configured to run a media player compatible with said WebSocket connection.
  1. The computer readable apparatus of claim 17, wherein said media player is further configured to determine one or more rights of said client device and/or a user thereof to said IP packetized content.
  1. A method for providing Internet Protocol (IP) packetized content to a client device, said method comprising: receiving a multicast comprising said IP packetized content via a persistent socket connection; receiving a first request for access to said IP packetized content from said client device, said request comprising a uniform resource locator (URL) provided from a managed webserver; receiving a second request to enable a TCP port assigned to deliver said requested IP packetized content via said persistent socket connection; and joining a multicast configured to provide said requested IP packetized content.
  1. The method of claim 19, further comprising exiting said multicast upon completion of delivery of said requested IP packetized content.

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