IPTV in the U.S. is enjoying a golden age in many ways: AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS have both enjoyed some significant subscriber growth in the past year amidst cord-cutting concerns from cable operators. But next-generation IPTV infrastructure needs to not only enhance an operator’s own video service, but also open it up as a shared or wholesale infrastructure for others. This is not without a host of challenges.
“Clearly, better video services can make a difference even with more limited broadband bandwidth, as is the case with AT&T,” said Cheng Wu, co-founder of Azuki Systems, in a blog. “And more help is on the way with better video compression technologies like High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) and enhanced DSL modulation techniques.”
The battleground for next-generation superiority, however, goes beyond just the managed video services that an operator delivers he said. Being all-IP based for its video services with more advanced video services and faster service rollout have helped the telcos, but cable operators like Comcast with its X1 and X2 Platforms are closing the gap.
“Note what Amazon has done: Amazon built its cloud infrastructure for its own e-commerce and then opened it up as a public cloud under the brand name EC2,” he said. “Netflix runs over EC2 as an OTT VOD service provider, while Amazon also pushes for its own premium content delivery service. Now you’ve got the picture?”
Building an IPTV platform to deliver video services is one thing; extending an IPTV platform into a video-optimized network is another, and it takes a giant leap in technology to enable it, Wu noted. MPEG-DASH, the next generation of video codec, helps by standardizing how video payloads can be transported via standard protocols and servers and how policies may be built on top to manage them as network elements.
However, Wu cautions, there is more work to be done. “As to how to extend this foundation into the next-generation IPTV services that enable Web speed service delivery with agile infrastructure – while embracing user-generated, premium and Internet content under one common user experience – is another level of challenges altogether,” he said.
For one thing, the underlying infrastructure must be cleanly separated from an operator’s own IPTV platform so that it can function as public audio/video (AV) pipes that can be shared. Second, AV resources must be made adaptive to dynamic demands without manual re-provisioning and resource allocation. Last but not least, normalization of AV streams into the infrastructure is key to making the infrastructure sharable.
IPTV providers take note: you may be on top in growth in a saturated TV market, but plan your capital investment cycles now to stay ahead of the technology curve.
Edited by Alisen Downey