Home EMEAEMEA 2012 A Way for Telcos to Move Beyond Bandwidth for IPTV

A Way for Telcos to Move Beyond Bandwidth for IPTV

by david.nunes
Sharon Mantin Issue:EMEA 2012
Article no.:17
Topic:A Way for Telcos to Move Beyond Bandwidth for IPTV
Author:Sharon Mantin
Title:Vice President, Marketing
PDF size:271KB

About author

Sharon Mantin is Vice President, Marketing in OrckitCorrigent. Sharon Mantin has 12 years of experience in marketing, product management and system engineering. Prior to assuming his current position, Mr Mantin served as Product Line Management Director at Corrigent. He joined Corrigent after working for Texas Instruments (TI) as Product Management Manager, responsible for all cable product lines. Prior to TI, Mr Mantin was the Marketing Director at Axonlink (subsidiary of ECI Telecom) responsible for all marketing and product management activities. Previously, Mr Mantin held several system-engineering positions at Orckit communication.

Article abstract

While trends in Mobiles are for smaller, smarter and richer devices, the IPTV direction is far from clear. The OptiBand European funded project may provide a ‘trajectory’ with its recent major technology breakthrough in DSL based IPTV. The proof-of-concept has demonstrated delivery multiple streams ofhigh qualityover a single DSL line that can enable several HD channels per household. This means that operators can use existing DSL infrastructure without any change to it and deliver an alternative to the Internet based IPTV.

Full Article

If someone told you IPTV has been around for almost 20 years you might not believe it. After all, high-speed Internet was not even available to consumers until the late 1990s, and until then any kind of video over the Internet was grainy at best, and at worst, unwatchable. In fact, the entire 18-year history of IPTV has been one of differing definitions. Is it a product? Is it a service? Is it a philosophical approach to broadcast?
The questions are many, and because of that, the industry has not yet set itself on a clear course, unlike, for example, the mobile phone industry. With mobile phones, it has been a fairly straightforward process of smaller, faster and more capable devices, and we have yet to see the best of what mobile phones have to offer. With IPTV, however, we are still waiting to understand what the trajectory is.
Within the context of this hazy picture, several aspects appear at this point:
1. IPTV is universally accepted as ’the way things will be’, with Internet becoming such a dominant means of communicating;
2. IPTV as a service has been somewhat successful, particularly in Europe, which has seen significant up-take of the technology. In 2011, European IPTV revenues totalled US$4.3 billion, and are expected to reach US$9.3 billion by 2015
3. The overall potential IPTV market is significant, with analyst firm Ovum forecasting it as the third-highest growth opportunity in the industry of telecom
4. The profitability of IPTV is still up in the air, especially for the telecommunication service providers (telcos) who are concerned that they will be relegated to the low-margin business of bandwidth providers, while Google and other content providers of the world take the majority of the revenues.
The third issue above is an important one, when considering that IPTV has only achieved seven per cent market penetration in Europe. In other words, there is still time for the telcos to figure out how to be part of the market beyond simply providing bandwidth, which is basically a commodity at this point.
So how will this be accomplished, and more importantly, how can it be accomplished in the context of a market so heavily invested in DSL for access, that it would require a tremendous amount of time and capital to upgrade the last mile for IPTV readiness?
Surely, it is doable, but it is not exactly the telcos’ idea of a good time, given the Capital Expenses (Capex) and Operational Expenses (Opex) required. It all leads to the industry believing that the IPTV opportunity – although promising – may not be financially viable for the traditional telcos in the short to medium term.
Project ’OptiBand’,partially funded by the EC under the FP7 program , is a consortium of organizations from across the IPTV ecosystem, including both commercial and academic partners, which has been hard at work over the past two and a half years to develop a solution enabling carriers to bypass this daunting DSL upgrade obstacle. The project recently completed a major technology innovation breakthrough that could dramatically impact the IPTV business model for European telcos. In other words, if successful, OptiBand can play a significant role in enabling the telcos to deliver efficient IPTV services over DSL.

The OptiBand project: An overview

The OptiBand consortium is focused on optimizing the bandwidth of IPTV for the delivery of multiple high-definition (HD) streams over a single DSL line, enabling multiple HD channels per household. On the technical side, the project conducts in-depth research and development regarding the efficient distribution of video content while preserving quality-of-experience according to both objective and subjective metrics.

From the economic perspective, the project adds innovation at the content head-end, network aggregation and middleware levels. It does not affect the very large installed-base of (mostly DSL) access network elements mentioned above. This provides a solid and competitive business model for telcos, which will save the cost and complexity associated with the last mile.

Operationally, the project is being developed with five phases:

1. Requirements: Building on end-user inputs, network operator inputs and technology inputs, the functional requirements for the OptiBand IPTV network have been collected.
2. Research: Several work packages have been dedicated to research activities – Algorithm, quality-of-experience (QoE) metrics and system architecture.
3. Development: Based on the results of the research, the project has developed prototypes to perform the data-dropping algorithm according to the methods and protocols, which will be analysed and tested by simulation. This prototype system is composed of two parts:
a. A hardware and software solution, implementing the data analysis and tagging at the head end
b. A hardware and software solution implementing the data-dropping at the transport network.
4. Integration: The prototypes will be integrated together in a lab environment to test the functionality and performance of the end-to-end system.
5. Live test: After the OptiBand end-to-end system is integrated and tested in the lab, it will be deployed on a limited scale, for live testing in Telecom Italia’s network. This live test will be monitored and evaluated in order to assess the OptiBand functionality and performance in live environment. Feedback from end users will provide the basis for the Proof of Concept (PoC) for the project.

The latest OptiBand achievement

Recently, the consortium completed a demonstration of the entire approach. It was executed successfully, which is very good news for the companies involved in the OptiBand efforts, and could, more importantly, be extremely good news for telcos in the future.

An end-to-end prototype was built, including:
• A content head-end equipped with encoder, streamer and Encrypting elements. Encrypted video streams were transmitted from this domain to the IPTV broadcast network;
• An IPTV backbone network including switch/router and packet dropping elements;
• Multiple screens receiving high definition TV from a standard DSL connection in a subscriber’s household;
• IPTV middleware that enabled the entire application; and
• A DSL access network that was untouched.

The demonstration successfully delivered two profiles: three HD streams over a 15Mbps DSL connection, and two HD streams over a 10Mbps DSL connection. All streams passed objective and subjective QoE criteria set by the consortium in advance.

End-to-end prototype demonstrated by OptiBand

This means that OptiBand can not only offer an alternative approach for solving the IPTV challenge, but it is able to accomplish it at a high level, given that two to three HD channels per household is what the industry is expecting service providers to offer.

That is not to say that the OptiBand approach is going to be the only way forward for the entire IPTV ecosystem. However, for the traditional telcos who have been staring in the face of the major Capex/Opex associated with extending IPTV within a network dominated by a huge installed-base of DSL equipment, OptiBand may offer the path to profitability – and significant revenue opportunity. Such an opportunity has been sought after since, well, perhaps even the mid-90s, when IPTV was first being discussed and demonstrated. Just as important, it may give the industry a potential clear way forward, which will be necessary for the technology to progress as efficiently as possible. Otherwise, we may have to continue to innovate whileubable to focuson thismoving target, which as we all know runs counter to efficiency.

We know the history of IPTV. The question is where the industry will go from here, and whether everyone can agree on definitions, targets, roles and responsibilities for all involved. The industry may want to examine what the OptiBand Project’s consortium has done and work to continue the process.

More About The OptiBand Project – http://optiband-project.eu/

The OptiBand consortium consists of the following partners:

Name Country
Orckitcomminications ltd. Israel
Irdeto B.V. Netherlands
FTWForschungszentrumTelekummunikation Wien GMBH
Fraunhofer-GesellschaftZurFoerderung Der AngewandtenForschung E.V Germany
Universidade Da Coruna Spain
Corrigent Systems Ltd. Israel
Arttic Israel International Management Services 2009 Ltd Israel
Optibase Technologies Ltd. Israel
Thomson Video Networks SAS
Interoud Innovation S.L. Spain

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007- 2013) under grant agreement n° 248495.

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