Akamai is to buy Network24 Communications in a $200 million deal.

Akamai announced yesterday that it has signed a definitive-merger agreement to acquire California-based Network24. Network24 attracted Akamai with its Qcast application, a Web-based solution for delivering on-demand Internet broadcasts.

In July, Apple announced that its newly unveiled QuickTime TV network would draw on servers maintained by Akamai - following its June investment of $12.5 million for about 5 per cent of Akamai shares.

Sharp rise After Akamai's initial public offering in October, the value of Apple's investment ballooned to more than $1 billion, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during his keynote speech at this month's Macworld Expo/San Francisco.

Jobs claimed that this made Apple the biggest profiteer from streaming media in the whole industry.

Qcast’s capabilities include broadcast management, audience management, network management, and navigation and feedback - for example live Q & A, chat, surveys, and data analysis. Akamai will use this technology to deliver Internet broadcasts such as distance learning, interactive concerts, and corporate communications.

Network24’s CEO and founder Dan Fraisl said: "Our vision for enabling the Internet to become the next broadcast medium will be greatly accelerated by joining forces with Akamai. Of particular significance to our broadband-streaming future is Akamai’s rapidly growing coverage of major DSL, cable and satellite networks."