Seamless video watching on 2G? The right time is now!
Almost all of us crib and curse our mobile networks when we encounter incredibly slow buffering speeds. But such was not the case with Brahmayya Akella. A technology professional and an IIT Madras – IIM Bangalore alumnus, when he encountered incredibly such low 2G speeds that spoilt the fun of watching videos on demand on his mobile device, he really wanted to do something about it.
Around that same time a common friend introduced him to Mahesh Subramanian, who is a former chief network architect at storage and communication major Marvell. Akella hit it off immediately with Subramanian. Together they decided to start Touchfone Technology- a mobile platform that delivers video on demand. This was way back in 2009.
According to Akella, “We wanted to deliver high-quality video on reduced bandwidths. The idea was to stream glitch-free videos across devices and network”. The duo wanted to enable smooth viewing on 2G, which was the dominant technology that time.
This Bangalore-based product company today employs 22 people and has 6 clients through its licensing model.As of now, Touchfone is being incubated at the Microsoft Accelerator. This company has raised $200,000 from Blume Ventures for a minority stake. It is in the process of raising a fresh round of $6 million from a clutch of investors as well.
Touchfone has partnerships with some cellular service providers to stream videos on 2G devices. Lately, it tied up with Nokia to launch Your Movies- a movie streaming service, which gives users access to over 3,000 movies on the go. It has been done for the Nokia Lumia 625 device.
Akella has over two decades of experience in leading product and engineering teams. He has been the managing director of US-based KLA Tencor that manufactures process control systems for semiconductor and microelectronics industries. Akella was also the country head of Infineon Technologies.
Today, video is estimated to be the single biggest data driver of mobile internet usage. Industry reports estimate that 18% of mobile traffic comprises of videos, and that this is expected to increase to 36% by 2016, which is huge. But video on demand is still seen to be growing much below its potential because of bandwidth issues. As of date, just 15% of the mobile connections are 3G enabled. Remaining vast majority of mobile connections are still on 2G.
As per Akella, “Videos work best if you have higher bandwidth. Anyways, we have set out to change that perception; irrespective of the network or the device, we’ll get you high quality video.”
Akella and Subramanian spent six months mapping out various device and network capabilities. The duo developed a proprietary packing algorithm that packaged data to be delivered to end devices. Now they are waiting for the big change to take place and make our video watching seamless. To which Subramanian says, “There has to be a handshake between players, servers and the algorithm that decodes the video, and plays it back without glitches.”
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