Last week it was Publius. This week, AT&T have announced  ‘Ecosystem for Media,’ a network services platform that will allow companies to create, manage and distribute audio and video to millions of users over the Internet. Ecosystem will enable businesses to provide streaming media, video-on-demand, distance learning and other media-heavy e-commerce services over AT&T’s streaming media infrastructure, which will scale to support 10 million simultaneous Internet users. For its streaming media services, AT&T plans to use Microsoft’s Windows Media and RealNetworks’ RealSystem 8 as its initial media formats.

A&T is to build its service, which is currently in ‘controlled introduction’ (read: beta-testing) with the aid of Inktomi, Microsoft, RealNetworks and others. General availability is slated for the first quarter of 2001. Kathleen Earley, president AT&T Data and Internet Services, says scaling media technologies are what the company is all about. ‘We’re fully committed to providing businesses with the ability to reach as many people over the Internet as national prime-time television reaches today,’ she explains.On the tech side, the network is planned to run over the high speed Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM). This should allow Ecosystem media to be delivered quickly and reliably. Customers will use AT&T’s Broadband Services’ Digital Media Centers to encode and manage their digital media - digitising traditional media such as VHS or audio tape and converting them for into streaming or downloadable Internet media. ‘Statistics indicate that more than 70 million hours of audio and video content is shelved away in archives and storage facilities,’ said Martin Tobias of Loudeye Technologies, who will be working with AT&T on this aspect of the system. The Ecosystem for Media will include the ability for customers - corporate, dot com, advertising, entertainment or otherwise - to create original content through these Digital Media Centers. Located in Denver, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, the centers are to offer extensive production capabilities including studio, mobile and post-production services. AT&T hopes the centers will provide customers with a complete suite of services to create world-class video, audio and multimedia content.