Since NAB2006, IPTV has become significantly more prominent in the industry and at the convention. This year, NAB featured three related conferences: IPTV World, Telecom@NAB2007 and the MoTV (Mobile Video @ TV Forum). Even putting these gatherings aside, the number of papers, presentations and speakers addressing the technology and business case for sending video data packets over a private, closed IP network — in the case of IPTV — or the public Internet — in the case of broadband TV — dwarfed any similar effort the year before.
The same was true on the exhibition floor, where a variety of vendors — from companies with well-established roots in the market to relative newcomers — offered IPTV solutions ranging from set-top boxes for the home to encoders and test measurement and monitoring solutions for headends.
Microsoft came to NAB with news of additional support for its TV IPTV Edition software platform. It includes Grass Valley MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 SD encoders; set-top boxes from Pirelli Broadband Solutions; and server and storage solutions in the form of Sun Microsystems' Sun Fire x64 carrier class servers. Additionally, AMD and Intel continue to support the Microsoft platform with chipsets for server and storage infrastructures for IPTV Edition ecosystems.
For the Internet TV arena, Microsoft rolled out a new cross-platform, cross-browser media player to deliver full-screen, next-generation video playback. Called Silverlight, the player can run on both Mac and Windows with a variety of browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.
TANDBERG Television made announcements on both the IPTV and Internet TV fronts at NAB2007. TANDBERG and Intel said they would collaborate to bridge the chasm between TVs and computers with a broadband TV programming solution that gives programmers an easy way to develop broadcast-quality content to PCs using Intel Core 2 Duo processors. For the IPTV market, TANDBERG introduced the iPlex UltraCompression HD/SD video processor, which delivers as much as 50 percent better bandwidth use over previous MPEG-4 AVC units.
Kasenna came to NAB2007 with the results of IPTV benchmark tests done with Hewlett Packard and Intel. The company demonstrated that its PortalTV product suite of IPTV software is capable of scaling to more than 1 million subscribers. The software leverages open standards-based servers and the company's middleware for IPTV service delivery. The company also highlighted its new LivingRoom 2.0 DHTML-based middleware, as well as strategic partnerships with ANT Software and IPTV set-top box provider Amino.
Amino previewed the AmiNET530 HD IPTV set-top box with PVR capability, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 (H.264) video codecs, alpha blending and international fonts. Additonally, the company announced it was porting its IntAct IPTV software stack to the Intel CE 2110 System on Chip (SoC) media processor.
Adtec presented its Middleware Application Server (MAS) for IPTV and broadband TV applications. There are two major components of MAS: a hardware platform running optimized Linux and Web-based open standards modules.
Optibase showed how it — along with other companies offering “best of breed” components — could make it easier for IP service providers and enterprises to deploy IPTV servers. In a theater presentation, the company laid out a step-by-step explanation of what's needed to build an integrated IPTV headend. New products included the MGW HD, an H.264 HD encoding and streaming platform, and the MGW 1000, a carrier-grade encoding and streaming solution.
Cisco and Scientific-Atlanta came to NAB with a variety of products to create next-generation IPTV networks, including the Model D9054 MPEG-4 AVC HD/SD encoder, the new Model D9845 HD AVC decoder, and digital content management support for the company's next stat mux architecture. The D9845 AVC decoder supports the company's PowerVu and third-party conditional-access systems.
Harris showed IPTV products spanning video processing and management at the headend to subscriber preference for local, targeted programming and advertising. At NAB2007, the company launched the NetVX ENC-A21 HD/SD encoder with MPEG-4 H.264 support. The company also featured the DTP-300 digital turnaround processor that lets users add local branding, insert commercials and rate shape MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 program streams without having to decode and re-encode streams.
Harmonic emphasized its position as a headend solution provider for Microsoft TV IPTV environments. The company's MPEG-4 AVC H.264 Electra 7000 HD encoder and Electra 5400 SD encoder are the third generation of products to be deployed with the Mircrosoft platform. Both encoders can deliver up to four channels from a 1RU form factor.
Modulus Video unveiled its MRE2000 family of video receiver/encoders at NAB2007. Aimed at IPTV and DBS headends, the encoders offer direct RF signal input, demodulation, decoding and signal processing with an MPEG-4 AVC HD/SD encoder. The company also addressed video on demand with the VODxchange, a real-time HD/SD MPEG-4 AVC video encoder.
Snell & Wilcox spotlighted Protus Ph.C, a video image conditioning system that lets mobile TV and Internet TV providers improve the quality of their images or reduce bandwidth needs for content delivery to wireless, IPTV and Internet platforms. It has the potential to offer operators a double-digit percentage bandwidth savings.
At Pixelmetrix, the theme was IPTV forensics. To that end, the company unveiled its EndGame IPTV network surveillance system, an end-to-end QoS monitoring solution. With the system, operators can track QoS problems across the content delivery chain so they can track backwards from a customer with a problem through the network and to the IPTV headend. The company also rolled out the DVagent set-top box monitor that checks the integrity of individual subscriber STBs and the EndGame Subscriber Status dashboard software.
Tektronix came to NAB2007 with new features and enhancements for the MTS400 series MPEG test system. Designed for the IPTV, video over IP and DTV markets, the MTS400 delivers first-line diagnostics with integrated cross layer fault analysis and error logging. At the convention, the company unveiled an optical and electrical GigE interface for the MTS400 that provides line rate IP connectivity and analysis. This allows for the analysis of packet loss, sequence errors, MDI statistics, packet inter-arrival time and histograms.
Phil Kurz writes several Broadcast Engineering e-newsletters, including IPTV Update.