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Quality control for OTT

by Adrian Pennington on Sep 30, 2017

As video viewers continue to shift towards OTT video consumption on smart TVs and mobile devices, they expect broadcast-level quality, and with the advent of 4K/UHD and HDR streaming, expectations are even exceeding broadcast quality.

At the same time, many OTT video providers do not own or operate the infrastructure they rely on for the quality that will attract and retain viewers, and secure revenue. This shift has created an increasing need for flexible, scalable measurement tools that can address the new reality of video delivery both from a business and a technical perspective.

“There’s never been a time like this in the broadcast industry, with so many fundamental changes in technology and workflows coming together at the same time,” says Charlie Dunn, general manager, video product line, Tektronix. “An industry driven by rapid change requires more than technical evolution. It requires what we call ‘revolutioneering’. This means we’re doing more than just accommodating change and new technologies – we’re helping to lead the charge.”

IP introduces new technical and skills challenges. These include jitter, latency and the risk of dropped packets, and network asymmetry that results in different path delays upstream and downstream.

“Deploying IP for video production applications is effectively the collision of the two worlds of video and network engineering,” says Mike Waidson, application engineer for Tektronix’s video business division. “Video engineers are comfortable with the use of SDI, coax cable, patch panels, black burst, and tri-level sync for timing and, above all, monitoring signal quality. The challenge for the video engineer is to understand IT technologies and the impact of an IT infrastructure on the video.”

On the other hand, network engineers are familiar and comfortable with IP flows, protocols, network traffic, router configuration, precision time protocol (PTP), and network time protocol (NTP) for timing.

“The biggest difference is that in most data centre applications, lost data can be re-sent. This is not the case with high bitrate video,” says Waidson. “The challenge for the network engineer lies in understanding video technology and its impact on the IT infrastructure.”

Tektronix offers PRISM for broadcast engineers and IT professionals to monitor and analyse IP streams and the associated content in real time. This enables early identification and diagnosis of network or content issues such as intermittent loss of video, audio, or data content.

The latest capabilities in this area include analysis of PTP synchronisation timing, support for SMPTE ST 2022-7 redundancy, IGMP V3 and new API support for system integration into network management systems, and IP stream capture for even deeper analysis.

“An ‘all IP’ infrastructure is the vision for most broadcasters, and is already starting to happen in many facilities,” says Waidson. “The reality is, however, that the transition won’t happen overnight, leading to the need to manage hybrid SDI and IP infrastructures, and thus a need for IP and video engineers to work closely together to ensure seamless operation and quickly track down faults.”


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