MUSICIAN's goal is to develop and launch attractive multimedia services which effectively combine the potential of new technologies with the wealth of material created for broadcasting purposes. It will address all aspects of the multimedia service creation and delivery chain starting with contents creation and finishing with the evaluation of the services by end-users. It will not look at the different entities in isolation but consider the interfaces between them in order to allow for a smooth transition process.
During the first four months of MUSICIAN's existence the main effort has been spent on the content and service parts of the multimedia chain. The two content partners WDR and ORF developed concepts for attractive multimedia services. Also, a first service provisioning approach had been defined. From a technology perspective the project concentrated on the specification of the network architecture including CATV management. In addition, requirements were defined for the end-user devices to be utilised for delivering content to customers.
MUSICIAN is expected to provide results in all areas of the multimedia services integration chain (content creation, service creation, service provisioning, network provision and customer acceptance). However, the main focus is the evaluation of the overall approach and not so much the individual components.
MUSICIAN is a concrete step towards the realisation of the European Information Society. It will provide residential users in a specific "Tele-region" with easy access to multimedia service offers an will therefore contribute to an improved quality of life. It will add to the overall attractiveness of the region in terms of its economic competitiveness, i.e. advanced network infrastructure, know-how acquisition in the field of future technology and knowledge transfer to other companies wishing to join the multimedia market as contents or service providers. In summary, it will stimulate the market for communication technologies and hence strengthen the competitiveness of this branch of Europe's industry.
MUSICIAN will analyse the content creation process in order to determine necessary tools and procedures for making broadcast contents available for multimedia on-line services. It will establish a service creation centre and constitute all steps necessary for service provisioning. The adaptation of existing optical fibre and coax networks will be studied for the purpose of creating advanced multimedia service delivery and access networks. Last but not least residential customers will be offered MUSICIAN services under conditions which are as realistic as possible. The evaluation of the whole chain will provide the basis for determining the viability of such a multimedia service provisioning approach.
Summary of trial
The project's validation of the multimedia service integration chain will take place in a large scale user trial called InfoCity NRW. All entities of the service delivery chain will be represented: content and service creators, service and network providers as well as consumers in their role as end-users. The participation of the latter is necessary to have a basis for assessing the cost-effectiveness of the service creation process. It cannot be commercially viable to design a service nobody wants. Also, customer feedback is necessary to decide which service features are important and which are dispensable. MUSICIAN is not a feasibility study but a fully fledged field trial with 10,000 households in a specific region to provide a sound statistical basis for service use.
The evaluation of the whole multimedia services integration chain within the context of the InfoCity pilot test is a core feature of the project. It will provide answers to the following three questions:
Which technical solutions ranging from tools in the contents creation process to network termination units for consumers are the most practically suitable?
Are the chosen solutions economically feasible?
Do consumers want such services and are they willing to pay for them?