Optical/IP Networks

NAB 2006: Starring IP as Itself

NAB 2006 was a show about transitions. Analog video providers want to go digital. Digital video providers want go high-def. And just about everyone is curious about how to integrate IP technologies into their plans. (See HBO Exec: Sling Slags Copyrights and NBC Exec: IPTV's No Big Deal.)

Once you go IP, you never go back. But you do go mobile, and that was the other huge theme at this show. (See Startups Make the Case for Mobile TV, Mobile TV's XXX Factor, and AT&T, Starz Offer B'band VOD.)

But as broadcast companies find their way in an IP world, the tools of their trade look more and more like those that have been around the computing and telecom space for ages. Here's a sampling of what big tech areas we observed to be buzzworthy during NAB 2006:

Set-top boxes
U.K.-based Amino Communications Ltd. introduced another of its small, oval shaped set-top boxes at NAB, this time the MPEG-4 and HD-ready AmiNET130. The company says the device's low price point and small form factor will make it perfect for installation on multiple TV sets in the household. Amino says it will announce the first customer deployment of the new unit in the third quarter this year. (See Amino Unveils MPEG-4 STB.)

ANT plc was on site helping Quative Ltd., a new U.K.-based subsidiary of Kudelski SA, launch its new IPTV service delivery platform. ANT will provide its Galio client TV application manager and browser as a front end for the new platform, helping deliver video on-demand (VOD), digital video recording, and Web applications to IPTV viewers. (See ANT, Quative Integrate.)

Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453) was on hand making sure no one's left behind in this digital revolution. The company was demonstrating its set-top digital-to-analog converter box, which it is developing under contract from the Association for Maximum Television Service (MSTV) and NAB. Thomson says the box will enable the existing 70 million-plus analog TVs to receive programming as broadcasters convert to digital formats.

Testing and measurement
Video testing and measurement gear is getting more attention in North America as mass market IPTV providers get their game on. Jitter, pixilation, and screen freeze are all unwelcome on consumer TV sets, and several companies say they're up to the task of banishing these gremlins from service provider networks.

JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) announced new features for its video and broadcast test and monitoring analyzers, the DTS-200 and DTS-330. Added is a new module that enables the devices to analyze 256 MPEG streams within a gigabit Ethernet pipe. The module also provides Ethernet layer statistics that operators can use to quickly troubleshoot IP layer issues, the company says. (See JDSU Visits NAB.)

IneoQuest Technologies Inc. was showing off the gear it uses in its subscription-based "IQWatch" IPTV monitoring service. The IQWatch service uses data collected from IneoQuest hardware probes installed in telco networks and can monitor hundreds of live, simultaneous IP video flows in real-time, the company says. IneoQuest is engaged with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) to help out with packet loss issues in the coming launch of its IPTV service, U-Verse. (See AT&T Readies Lightspeed in North Texas.)

SkyStream Networks Inc. , which is now a Tandberg Television company, announced at NAB it has built "picture in picture" (PiP) capability into its large Mediaplex and its single rack-space iPlex video encoders. As a Microsoft IPTV partner, SkyStream's gear needs to support the PiP capability in Microsoft TV's IPTV Edition middleware platform. PiP has emerged as a major selling point for Microsoft's middleware. Skystream says containing the PiP intelligence in the video headend gear eliminates the cost of building it into the set-top boxes. (See SkyStream Supports PIP.)

Tandberg has introduced a new headend solution for cable, satellite, and telco operators called the iSIS 8000. The system includes a new multiplexer called the Tandberg MX8400 and newly acquired SkyStream Mediaplex and iPlex encoders. The system sits in the video headend or central office and does MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC, and SMPTE VC-1 video encoding and transcoding as well as IP multiplexing. (See Tandberg TV Displays Head End.)

Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) trotted out its new MPEG-2 encoder called the DiviCom MV 500. Harmonic says the device represents a 25 percent improvement in MPEG-2 high definition (HD) video compression efficiency compared with its older models. Harmonic intends to sell the device to cable, broadcast, and satellite operators that have a large base of MPEG-2 customers. (See Harmonic Struts at NAB and Harmonic Hones Hearst.)

Tut Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: TUTS) took the opportunity to introduce its first ever MPEG-4 HD encoder, which it says is part of its Astria line. Tut says the encoder can slim a 19-Mbit/s MPEG-2 stream down to a manageable 10 Mbit/s in MPEG-4. The product is targeted at operators distributing video over xDSL that have limited bandwidth capacity yet must deliver at least one HD channel to the household. Tut says it already has orders for the product from a few operators this year. (See Tut Shows MPEG-4.)

Envivio Inc. (NASDAQ: ENVI) announced during the show that it will integrate its encoders with Medialive content protection technology. The companies say the link-up will allow the customers to better protect their digital content. (See Envivio Serves MPEG-4.)

Networking gear
Several companies showed up in Vegas to demo network and server technology, mainly aimed at IPTV distribution networks. (See Altera FPGAs Help Nvision, NTT Shows Off Video Server, Path 1 Struts at NAB , and ADC Shows Off at NAB.)

Content management
Several of the content management companies also turned up to reassure content owners that encryption requirements can be met in IPTV networks. (See Irdeto Lands IPTV Deal, Verimatrix Shows Off at NAB, and Verimatrix Wins Consolidated.) Ad insertion
Among the companies taking advantage of IPTV's interactivity was Tandberg Television with its AdPoint product. The device allows operators to insert targeted advertising in VOD and broadcast programming, matching advertising with the appropriate programming type, geography, and viewer demographic data. Its aim is to do with TV advertising what Google does with Internet ads. (See Tandberg TV Shows Off.)

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:55:35 AM
re: NAB 2006: Starring IP as Itself Jeff Weber and the boys from AT&T/Microsoft/Alcatel did their Project Lightspeed dog and pony show for the broadcasters at NAB. "2006 is the year of IPTV in the U.S.," they said. Is it? How is Project Lightspeed REALLY progressing?
OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 3:55:34 AM
re: NAB 2006: Starring IP as Itself Try this link to see those great Services that IP is enabling from your Telco.


Need a Pizza?

Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:55:20 AM
re: NAB 2006: Starring IP as Itself Hey thanks for the link OldPOTS. That's a funny and relevant little video they have there. And yes it did make me very hungry and I was forced to order a pizza over the Internet. Why did they need my social security number though?
OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 3:55:19 AM
re: NAB 2006: Starring IP as Itself They needed a Social Security Number for a new employee to contribute to your insecurity.

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