Why Telecom Should Cheer MPEG-DASH

The new standard's acceptance in video infrastructure bodes well for anyone who wants to deliver multi-screen video, says analyst

September 18, 2012

2 Min Read
Why Telecom Should Cheer MPEG-DASH

Service providers should be thrilled that MPEG-DASH, a new standard for adaptive streaming of multimedia content over HTTP, is starting to show up client equipment this year, according to Ron Westfall, research director of Service Provider Infrastructure for Current Analysis.

The recently concluded IBC event in Amsterdam underscored the fact that MPEG-DASH gear is hitting the market, giving the new standard momentum in a market already awash in other approaches to adaptive streaming over HTTP, led by Apple's HLS or HTTP Live Streaming. (See SeaWell Inserts MPEG-DASH, Harmonic, Nagra Take Run at MPEG-DASH, Abertis Does MPEG-DASH OTT and Verimatrix Unveils VCAS for MPEG-DASH.)

Westfall says the arrival of MPEG-DASH is good news for service providers who want to deliver high-quality multi-screen services to users but can't control which devices they use for viewing. "Operators just want to increase their stickiness with the customer," Westfall says. "And if those customers are used to seeing high-quality video on TV or on PC, it would be a good idea to emulate that same experience on mobile devices like tablets, to hang on to that customer."

Having a single adaptive streaming method will make it much easier to deliver multi-screen services, Westfall adds, by reducing the use of proprietary approaches and enabling interoperability.

In addition to the product announcements, Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) and Nagra, a unit of the Kudelski Group announced the first deployment of MPEG-DASH with Abertis Telecom, a Spanish telco, but didn't release many details, he notes. "Naturally more details would have been helpful, but this is the first commercial deployment and that is another progress point for DASH."

That doesn't mean MPEG-DASH is a panacea and many within the video streaming industry believe it will be a matter of years before there is true simplification. While Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) are backing MPEG-DASH, to date Apple is not, and even if the digital giant does agree to accept the standard, there's no guarantee of any backward compatibility. That means there will be iPads and iPhones that don't support the new standard being used for some time to come.

French regulators have aided the cause by mandating use of DASH clients in 2013, Westfall notes, although he adds that a subset of the full standard can meet that requirement.

"It really highlights the fact that the standard could be streamlined to speed further adoption," he says. "MPEG-DASH has a lot of moving parts and that's one of the things that might slow its deployment."

Westfall is one of the many industry analysts who will be on hand in Las Vegas next month for our TelcoTV event, where he'll be speaking on the impact of cloud on the video market.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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