The presence of IPTV at NAB grew significantly in 2008 compared with last year with the addition of a new conference track, keynotes, the IPTV Pavilion (sponsored by Broadcast Engineering and Telephony) and multiple new products and services from a series of vendors serving one slice or another of the market.
Content aggregation and distribution
EchoStar entered the IPTV content aggregation and distribution arena at the show with the launch of its ViP-TV content transport service. Offering more than 300 channels of MPEG-4 H.264 TV and radio delivered via satellite, ViP-TV allows operators to insert the programs into their own IPTV distribution network. As part of the package, EchoStar provides two satellite antennas and one-and-a-half racks of receive equipment. One antenna points to EchoStar XVI to download national and international programming. The other, a small DBS antenna, receives local broadcast channels for the DMA in which the operator offers service.
SES-Americom touted the addition of 12 new IP-PRIME HD-4 customers. Launched in the last quarter of 2007, HD-4 lets IPTV operators overlay MPEG-4 encoded HD programming on their existing MPEG-2 network without upgrading their entire infrastructure. Deployment can be done without service interruption. The HD-4 service provides a 32-channel lineup of news, entertainment and sports programming.
Intelsat also used the NAB Show as an opportunity to announce the addition of a new customer for its IPTV service. On the eve of the convention, Wave Entertainment Network contracted with Intelsat to provide the service to cruise ships around the world. The first ship to deploy Wave's multichannel interactive platform is the Oceania Cruises Insignia.
Comtech EF Data introduced the CMR-8500 DVB IP encapsulator. In the IPTV market, the new product offers program aggregators, system integrators and service providers targeting smaller IPTV markets a means to encapsulate IP data into multiprotocol encapsulation format for distribution via an ASI interface.
Metrics and monitoring
Delivering the quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) viewers expect is critical for IPTV operators looking to reduce truck rolls and customer churn. At the show, Pixelmetrix showed visitors how three of its tools could be used together in an IP video delivery lab environment to test simulated network performance prior to deployment.
The tools included the VISUAL-mpeg Qualify, a new member of its analyzer family to assess audiovisual streams; the DVStorIP-Gen, which simulates a fully operational IP video delivery headend; and the DVStation-IP3, a monitoring engine for IP and transport stream analysis. The integrated solution can be used to identify and correct problems that otherwise would degrade QoS and QoE before an IPTV deployment goes live.
At the Tektronix booth, the MTM400A MPEG transport stream monitor was on display with the addition of a new FlexVuPlus interface. The MTM400A is designed to let network operators quickly detect the cause of signal degradation and diagnose errors so corrective action can be taken before viewers lose a signal. The FlexVuPlus interface simplifies monitoring, making it possible to monitor up to 500 IP sessions via new polling capability.
Digital Fountain presented its forward error correction technology to assist IPTV operators in solving delivery issues and ensuring high-end video delivery across its networks.
Protection, access and management
Verimatrix was on a twofold mission at NAB: unveil the latest release of its VCAS (which stands for video content authority system) and highlight technology and distribution partnerships with third parties. The company's new VCAS for IPTV version 2.3 offers incremental improvements to the product, such as enhanced system status and performance monitoring, and fully enabled wholesale-retail distribution of video-on-demand content. Technology partners on-hand included Falcon IP/Complete with its one-stop IPTV offering, Guest-Tek with its OneView Media IPTV solution for the hospitality market, and I-Systems, an IPTV reseller based in Chile.
At the Irdeto booth, the company highlighted its recent purchases of three companies as part of a strategy to extend its offerings. The acquisitions include business support systems specialist IBS Interprit, set-top box provider IDway and software and data center security firm Cloakware. They will extend the company's offering to its more than 400 conditional access and digital rights management customers worldwide.
Widevine showed its Cypher for Digital Media solution in the Microsoft booth. Key to its use with Microsoft's Silverlight is the DRM solution's cross-platform support, assuring secure delivery of content to Mac OS and Windows operating systems.
Phil Kurz writes several Broadcast Engineering e-newsletters, including IPTV Technology Update.