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Opinion – The Time for IP Has Come

By Alan Young, CTO and Head of Strategy, LTN Global

Tue 14, 04 2020

Significant shifts in technology, regulation, and consumer behavior have driven change across the content delivery chain. To monetize content optimally across a variety of distribution channels – traditional cable, direct-to-home satellite, social media, direct-to-consumer websites, and over-the-top (OTT) platforms – content providers must be able to target consumers and advertisers across diverse geographies, devices, languages, and cultures. IP-based video transport and delivery makes it possible to reach all viewers on any platform with customized content.

Customization and Regionalization

The days of broadcasting one version of content to all consumers based on a schedule are rapidly disappearing. Rights, audience, geographic location, and device type are just a few of the factors that demand content be adapted on some level. Advertising and the content itself are two of the elements that need to be customized today but in future graphics, and audio tracks could also be customized for particular audiences or even individual viewers.

Content owners traditionally have provided their content to target geographies via satellite and their distribution partners then deliver it to their subscribers. More recently, the need for customization and regionalization make the use of satellite alone problematic. The constraints of satellite transport limit the number of possible variations of content that can be delivered.

Flexible, Economical Distribution

A variety of business and regulatory factors are making the future of available C-Band satellite spectrum unclear and this will decrease the amount of capacity available for traditional broadcast delivery. There is therefore a strong impetus for content providers to explore non-satellite alternatives to supplement satellite initially and eventually replace it altogether.

IP-enabled terrestrial transmission is an attractive option because of the flexibility in routing traffic without the need to install dedicated physical end-to-end paths or ‘circuits’. This is particularly the case if the Internet is used for last mile connections because of its ubiquity and low cost. The rapid extension of last-mile bandwidth over the past few decades – approximately 30% per year – and declining cost of bandwidth make it more appealing all the time.

Reliable Delivery of High-Quality Images

However, for the internet to be able to support secure and reliable delivery of live video traffic at the same quality of service as satellite has delivered for decades, service providers must overcome several technical obstacles.

High-value live content distribution has exacting requirements for consistency, reliability, and latency. Guaranteed reliability requires an intelligent overlay network that can track, route, and reroute flows over multiple carrier backbones in milliseconds (much less than one video frame), regardless of internet conditions or physical path conditions. LTN’s managed multicast IP network which is based on its Rapid Error Recovery (RER) protocols and Dynamic Multi-carrier Routing (DMR) algorithms is able to achieve reliability and latency that rivals or even exceeds satellite using a managed combination of the Internet for last mile and dedicated high speed fiber links between its data centers.

The addition of a robust layer over the public internet enables a fully managed video transport service with high reliability, exacting service-level agreements (SLAs), and low latency that matches or exceeds that of satellite- or fiber-based services. For content providers, these guarantees come with additional benefits including standards compliance, multiple levels of redundancy and resilience, immunity against a failure by any single carrier, universal network access from anywhere in the world, security through encryption and authentication, scalability with respect to number of channels and destinations per channel, and high-visibility monitoring and diagnosis tools that enable control over flow performance.

IP: The Way Forward

Fully managed IP-based transmission of live video gives content companies both the capabilities and cost structure they need to reach consumers through a variety of distribution channels. As demand for customized content continues to grow, this model offers the flexibility and scalability media companies need to power their expansion and, ultimately, their profitability in meeting consumer demand for high-quality content and high quality of service.

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