The ALICANTE project heads towards the deployment of a “Media Ecosystem”, by proposing a comprehensive architecture with in-depth innovations and evolutions within and between each environment.
The ALICANTE concept aims to provide Content-awareness to the Network Environment, Network- and User Context -awareness to the Service Environment, and adapted services/content to the End User for his best service experience possible. A flexible cooperation between actors is expected, enabling eventually any user – first – to efficiently access the offered multimedia services in various contexts, and – second– to deliver their own content dynamically, seamlessly and transparently to other users.
In order to perform all these functionalities, the ALICANTE concept relies on a novel entity, the Home-Box, present in each user’s home and acting as the ‘meeting point’ for the three environments enabling collaboration, namely:
- Providing direct and constant connection with the user in the User Environment;
- Delivering content/services coming from the Service Environment;
- The last network entity in the service delivery chain (partially) belonging to the Network Provider of the Network Environment.
The ALICANTE concept contributes in defining, validating and demonstrating a new business model flexible and capable to satisfy the Service/Content/Network Providers’ objectives and needs together with flexibility in offering to the End-Users, new possibilities in terms of their role as consumers, providers and managers. The main business actors/entities involved are:
- Content Consumer (CC) or End-User (U) is an entity (human plus a terminal or a process), which establishes a contract with an SP for service/content delivery. These users are the final target recipients of services;
- Content Provider (CP) gathers/creates, maintains, and distributes digital information. The CP owns/operates network hosts that are the source of downloadable content but it might not own any networking infrastructure to deliver the content. The content is offered to the CCs or SPs through Service Level Agreements. There may be business relationships between CPs and NPs to host or co-locate the content servers that belong to CPs. In ALICANTE, the CC can also be a private CP;
- Service Provider (SP) delivers services and aggregates content from multiple CPs for offering/delivering it to CCs. SPs may not necessarily own a transport infrastructure, but rely on the connectivity services (enhanced via CAN in ALICANTE) offered by Network Providers (NPs). CCs have interactions with SPs and SPs are ultimately responsible for the service offered to them. SPs may interact with each other in order to expand their service base. SPs use the services of CPs and NPs (through appropriate Service Level Agreements – SLAs);
- Network Provider (NP) traditionally offers connectivity providing reachability between network domains/hosts. NPs own and administer IP connectivity infrastructures. They interact with each other for the purpose of expanding the geographical span of the offered connectivity services.
- Home-Box (HB) is a new ALICANTE business entity, which can be partially managed by the SP, the NP and the End-User. The HBs can cooperate with SPs in order to distribute multimedia services (e.g. IPTV) in different modes (e.g. P2P);CAN Provider (CANP) is a new ALICANTE business entity, actually being an enhanced NP (note that the additional CAN functions are performed by network nodes and therefore they are executed by the Network Provider). It offers content-aware network services to the upper layer entities.