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New initiative champions dynamic adaptive streaming

At the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, Spain this week, a group of technology providers announced the creation of a new organization that will promote the DASH (dynamic adaptive streaming over HTTP) protocol specified within the MPEG standard. This new specification (ISO/IEC 23009), which was ratified in November 2011, details the inclusion of data packets within the MPEG-4 file format or an MPEG-2 Transport Stream for file delivery by a variety of content distributors and over-the-top service providers.

The newly formed DASH Promoters Group hopes to bring new types of commercial DASH solutions to market this year and add more members to facilitate industry-wide interoperability. It will also focus on ongoing DASH standards development, promoting the use of common profiles across industry organizations, and facilitating interoperability tests to demonstrate the maturity of the DASH standard.

At the Mobile World Congress 2012, Qualcomm is hosting a demonstration of technology from several Promoters Group members, whereby a live video stream processed for DASH ISO-Base Live Profile by Harmonic encoders is ingested into Akamai’s Content Delivery Network and delivered to a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor-based mobile development platform for playback.

“Demonstrating the live ingest of DASH content and the dynamic synthesis of DASH manifests and segments is the first step toward DASH leveraging the benefits of capacity, efficiency, and security brought by the Akamai Intelligent Platform," said Will Law, principal architect, Media Division, at Akamai (one of the inaugural DASH Promoters Group members. “Public interoperability demonstrations among encoders, media delivery systems and playback clients inspire market confidence for this new format. DASH brings the promise of convergence in media delivery, as well as improvements in encoding and distribution efficiency, rights management and the overall consumer viewing experience.”

DASH is designed to address the growth of Internet video by defining an universal delivery format, which provides end users with the best possible video experience and dynamically adapts to changing network conditions as video streams to their devices. It incorporates all of the best elements of proprietary adaptive streaming solutions designed to solve the classic issues users see when they stream video: intermittent stalls, poor video quality under changing network conditions, and significant video start-up lag.

The DASH Promoters Group, led by founders Microsoft, Netflix, and Qualcomm, represents a wide variety of technology suppliers looking to streamline the delivery of video and multimedia clips over the Internet for use by consumers on the ever increasing number of portable devices.

Other companies that have joined the DASH Promoters Group include: Adobe Systems, AEG Digital Media, BuyDRM, Digital Rapids, Digital TV Labs, Dolby, EBU-UER, Elemental, Envivio, Ericsson, Harmonic, Intertrust, NDS, Packet Ship, Path1, RGB Networks, Samsung, Thomson, University of Klagenfurt, and ZiXi..

“Harmonic is very committed to the DASH technology,” said Thierry Fautier, senior director of convergence solutions at Harmonic Inc., adding that his company is the first video company to demonstrate solutions based on DASH technology (at the Mobile World Congress). “We believe DASH is the only way to effectively scale video over the Internet.”

“The formation of this organization and the demonstration at Mobile World Congress are important milestones,” said Rob Chandhok, senior vice president of software strategy for Qualcomm and president of Qualcomm Internet Services. “Qualcomm played a central role in defining this standard, bringing its deep understanding of the constraints of mobile devices and the ever-changing dynamics of wireless data transmission to bear on the challenge of improving upon current streaming solutions.”

The DASH Promoters Group said it is also working on deployment configurations for DASH, informally called DASH-264, to establish a minimum set of DASH requirements for the industry and help enable further commercialization of mobile devices that support it.