“Apple Inc is in talks with Comcast Corp. about teaming up for a streaming-television service that would use an Apple set-top box and get special treatment on Comcast’s cables to ensure it bypasses congestion on the Web, people familiar with the matter say,” Shalini Ramachandran, Daisuke Wakabayashi and Amol Sharma report for The Wall Street Journal. “The deal, if sealed, would mark a new level of cooperation and integration between a technology company and a cable provider to modernize TV viewing. Apple’s intention is to allow users to stream live and on-demand TV programming and digital-video recordings stored in the ‘cloud,’ effectively taking the place of a traditional cable set-top box.”

“Apple would benefit from a cable-company partner because it wants the new TV service’s traffic to be separated from public Internet traffic over the ‘last mile’ — the portion of a cable operator’s pipes that connect to customers’ homes, the people familiar with the matter say. That stretch of the Internet tends to get clogged when too many users in a region try to access too much bandwidth at the same time,” Ramachandran, Wakabayashi and Sharma report. “Apple’s goal would be to ensure users don’t see hiccups in the service or buffering that can take place while streaming Web video, making its video the same quality as Comcast’s TV transmissions to normal set-top boxes.”

“Delivering the service quality Apple envisions would require Comcast to make significant investments in network equipment and other back-office technology, according to people familiar with Comcast’s thinking,” Ramachandran, Wakabayashi and Sharma report. “Under the plan Apple proposed to Comcast, Apple’s video streams would be treated as a ‘managed service’ traveling in Internet protocol format—similar to cable video-on-demand or phone service. Those services travel on a special portion of the cable pipe that is separate from the more congested portion reserved for public Internet access. People familiar with the matter said that while Apple would like a separate ‘flow”‘ for its video traffic, it isn’t asking for its traffic to be prioritized over other Internet-based services. Those distinctions are important because of merger conditions Comcast agreed to as part of its 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal. Those ‘net-neutrality’ restrictions, which will be in place through 2018, say Comcast cannot ‘unreasonably discriminate'” in how it transmits network traffic… The arrangement Apple is seeking could give it a leg up over other new entrants vying to offer online versions of pay-television service, such as Sony Corp., whose traffic would travel over the public Internet.”

Much more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “David E.,” “Dan K.,” “leesweet,” “AAPLcore,” “Lynn Weiler,” and “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]