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Mobile TV provider 3 Italia launches DVB-H service with Omnibus iTX

On May 14, 2006, 3 Italia launched the first commercially viable DVB-H mobile TV service. The mobile service provider acquired the transmission frequencies and built the transmission network, positioning itself as network operator and launching its own service. Within three months, 3 Italia had more than 100,000 mobile TV subscribers. One year after launch, this number was 720,000 customers; the number has now passed 850,000 customers.

From the beginning, 3 Italia also acted as a content producer. In June 2007, 3 Italia completed its own production studios, deploying all the latest technologies and dramatically increasing its production capabilities without the need for an increase in headcount. As of June 2008, 75 percent of the programs transmitted on La3 channels are internally produced.

In December 2007, to complete the positioning on the media value chain and enable the possibility to aggregate and playout channels without depending on third parties, the content provider began in-house playout of these services in a multiplatform environment to allow more control, synergies, greater flexibility and a quicker response to market demands.

And in January 2008, 3 Italia’s Broadcasting Department, with chosen systems integrator Siemens IT Solutions and Services Italy, began the process of bringing these plans to reality.

The content provider required a new playout and headend for 20 DVB-H channels with the capability to easily expand to UMTS and DVB-T platforms and to support HD operations. The solution had to be revolutionary — completely IT based, leveraging off-the-shelf hardware and IP transport and using as little as possible of “traditional broadcast” components. It had to be tapeless, file based, had to offer an improved quality of service, had to be a fully redundant system with no single point of failure, and existing workflows had to be accommodated, but improved on wherever possible.

In just three months, more than 500sq-m of empty space was transformed into a complete TV playout center.

H3G Services was already on-air, so the migration had to be as seamless as possible. Beginning July 2008, the entire DVB-H offering of 3 Italia is being transmitted from the new playout center with no downtime on the service. The new playout center allows the acquisition, control and processing of all the necessary video and audio content and signals and incorporates an advanced automation system for transmission of five channels produced by H3G and 15 pass-through channels, of which four can have program and automatic advertising insertion.

The overall solution was designed to allow efficient and effective end-to-end monitoring with respect to both the A/V layer and the different transport layers (SDI, MPEG-2 TS, and IP). Monitoring is performed in a central master control room to which all the relevant A/V feeds (in the different points of the signal distribution chain) and monitoring consoles of the network management systems and of the element managers are routed. Media management flow is completely tapeless and implements automatic software quality control and transcoding capabilities to adapt content for final delivery platforms.

The Omnibus iTX automation system was chosen for the core of the playout system. EMC Clarion was chosen for the central storage, with material caching under the control of Omnibus iTX to the HP playout storage prior to air with no need for any transcoding or adaptation. Harris was chosen to manage all the audio/video signals and equipment, including a Harris Platinum router and Harris Centrio modules for monitoring via 12in x 52in NEC LCDs in the MCR. Rhozet Carbon Coder was chosen for transcoding (where necessary) and Thomson (ViBE, Opal, Lazulite) was chosen for the headend for transmission to the DVB-H network.

Integration between the new platform and existing systems (SintecMedia for scheduling and traffic and Nagravision for CA) was made using Web services through a custom integration Framework.

In addition to the systems integration project, Siemens IT Solutions and Services will provide O&M support for infrastructure maintenance and system evolution over time.

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