Multi-network solutions encompass a variety of network types and receiver devices. First a definition of what Verimatrix means with the terms Multi-network, Multi-screen and Hybrid.
Multi-network: The delivery of video services over two or more separate transport networks, e.g. DVB and IP, DVB-S and DVB-T, IPTV and mobile. The services may terminate in a single-network receiver, or a hybrid receiver that supports two or more network types. The networks may be managed (controlled by the pay-TV operator), or unmanaged (for example, controlled by an ISP not affiliated with the pay-TV operator). Multi-network services may be offered over two or more managed networks, or a combination of managed and unmanaged networks. The latter network type is often associated with over-the-top (OTT) video services delivery.
Multi-screen: The delivery of video services to more than one type of receiver devices, such as TV, PC/Mac, smart phones and web tablets. Multi-screen services may include multi-network delivery.
Hybrid: The delivery of video services over two or more separate transport networks, e.g. DVB-S and IP, DVB-S and DVB-T, IPTV and mobile. The services terminate in a hybrid receiver that supports two or more (managed or unmanaged) network types. Hybrid devices may be part of multi-screen video services.
DVB and OTT
While early incarnations of multi-network architectures were concerned with combining managed IP networks (telco TV grade) with DVB cable and satellite delivery (referred to as Hybrid DVB-IP), there is now a shift towards combinations of services over managed DVB and IPTV networks with unmanaged OTT ditto, resulting in Hybrid DVB-OTT and Hybrid IPTV-OTT, respectively.
This evolution has been fueled by the introduction of adaptive rate streaming (ARS) protocols, which power consumer quality OTT video services. The ARS delivery method makes use of what the Web does best – efficient and massively scalable delivery of data, in this case video – using the HTTP protocol. ARS is also particularly well-suited to mobile content delivery, as it replaces the concept of fixed network managed quality of service (QoS) in favor of a client optimized experience.
The focus on quality of experience (QoE) is particularly important given that an enjoyable television experience has traditionally been best supported in a controlled, managed network. Achieving an effective QoS over the multi-hop Internet has always seemed daunting. The ARS protocol HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), originally defined by Apple, is well-positioned to address QoE challenges.
ARS technology has emerged as an ideal complement to DVB network delivery. Consumers with high-bandwidth connections and newer hardware can experience HD quality video streaming, while those with lower bandwidth receive a stream optimum to local conditions. Each user enjoys an uninterrupted experience with the highest quality possible. It even permits extension of services across different screen resolutions, and seamless roaming between Wi-Fi and 3G/4G networks. Another ARS advantage is that content delivery networks (CDNs) already have massive deployments of acceleration servers supporting HTTP protocols (the Web file delivery standard).
Leveraging HLS enables new hybrid video service architectures and business models, and it offers a fast and cost-effective route for adding interactive services to previously broadcast-only pay-TV networks. Thus a new breed of multi-network architectures is born, referred to as Hybrid DVB-HLS.
HLS is particularly attractive for DVB operators as widespread vendor support for both standards simplifies the deployment process while also facilitating the development of new business models and increasing revenue security. A deft combination of a managed DVB network foundation complemented by HLS delivered services can hit a number of important bases, including:
- High quality television presentation on the household main screen.
- New business models that include on-demand services as well as live DVB+OTT subscriptions.
- Seamless catch-up TV and time shift services over unicast connections.
- Unified program guide navigation for managed and unmanaged network content feeds.
Using a combination of DVB and HLS provides operators with an ideal environment for deploying hybrid STBs with a unified security regime. The resulting hybrid service delivery is fully protected by VCAS, which provides a unified multi-network platform, protecting multi-screen services to hybrid STBs, PC/Macs, tablets and smart phones.
IPTV and OTT
While DVB+OTT may be used to augment a one-way broadcast network with interactive and on-demand services over a bidirectional IP network, an IPTV operator may extend the reach of its fixed line network by adding OTT services that go beyond the managed network. This could include adaptive streaming service delivery to smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices, as well as smart TVs.
An IPTV operator may also decide to add OTT delivered video services to its managed network, terminating in IPTV+OTT hybrid devices.
DVB-S and DVB-T
Combining satellite delivered video services with terrestrial broadcasting is common in Europe, where the DVB-T standard is universally adopted. Due to the limited DVB-T frequency spectrum, terrestrial operators often include satellite services in order to compete effectively with massive multi-channel offers from cable and managed IPTV operators.
DVB-C and IP (IP Cable)
Cable operators have attempted to deliver IP based on-demand services for many years but have also been hamstrung by the limited capacity and high prices of DOCSIS equipment. Various alternative architectures have been explored such as "CMTS Bypass" and "Direct-to-Edge". With the advent of DOCSIS 3 it appears more promising for a standards-based approach and when also considering that the DVB standards have been around since the mid '90s, the end result is a more cost effective architecture now known as IP Cable. This approach combines the best of both worlds, with DVB used for linear one-to-many content and IP for one-to-one on-demand delivery. Verimatrix pioneered the IP Cable approach and has several customers that have taken advantage of this hybrid DVB-IP approach.
Network Types and Standards
Below is a non-exhaustive list of network types and some associated standards, followed by examples of multi-network and hybrid combinations.
Cable incl. MMDS
- DVB NGH
Telco (managed) IPTV
- IP Multicasting
- IP Unicasting
- Adaptive Rate Streaming
- HTTP Live Streaming (HLS)
- Microsoft Smooth Streaming (MSS)
- Adobe HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS)
Examples of multi-network combinations, where hybrid would denote a receiver that supports two or more network types:
- DVB-S and IPTV
- DVB-S and DVB-T
- DVB-S and HLS
- DVB-C and IPTV (e.g. DOCSIS)
- DVB-T and HLS
- DVB-S and MSS
- DVB-x, HLS and MSS