IBC 2017 Takeaways: Embracing the Transition to IP

By Rob Cerbone, VP and GM of Media Services, Intelsat

IBC (International Broadcasting Convention), one of the industry’s leading media, entertainment and technology events, took place in Amsterdam recently and boasted a record turnout. More than 57,000 attendees from 170 countries had the opportunity to sit in on 90+ sessions and hear from 400+ speakers.

It was a busy week for media and broadcasting leaders to share ideas and predictions about the current and future state of the industry. One of the biggest themes that resonated throughout the event centered on the industry-wide transition to internet protocol (IP), both from a workflow and delivery perspective.   

Why IP?

The media industry is always working to transform and innovate, so it is no surprise that  IP is often the chosen delivery option for content distribution because it affords more flexibility in terms of workflow, enabling broadcasters to produce content once and easily manufacture all the different formats necessary, essentially upon request.  This is a key element of what’s driving the overall industry transition, as it enables smoother content delivery across formats, and in turn, brings down costs for providers. In recent years, for example, the move was from analog to digital formats, and in today’s market, many programmers are upgrading from standard definition (SD) to high definition (HD) (although most still deliver SD content for smaller markets).

The move to IP has not come without challenges, however: distribution remains a key hurdle. With multiple delivery formats, such as content distribution to computers, mobile phones, tablets and over-the-top (OTT) boxes, you suddenly have complex network distribution requirements.

Addressing Delivery

With IP, all content is shared and accessed over the internet, which usually works well…but not always.

Network bottlenecks still occur during big events that demand significant bandwidth. Sometimes these large events have nothing to do with your content distribution – the premiere of a popular TV show, for example, could cause outages or quality degradation as millions of viewers battle for access at the same time.

To date, challenges like these have been addressed with Content Distribution Networks (CDNs), which are meant to resolve issues by putting content closer to the edge of where it’s being consumed and caching it there. Generally, providers will plug into two or three CDNs for redundancy in the hopes that an issue on one won’t impact the others. Unfortunately, routing through an alternate CDN path often isn’t successful – if one CDN is negatively impacted, chances are multiple CDNs will be negatively impacted, and the reduction in quality persists for the end user.

Intelsat and IP  

Recognizing the need to help programmers and broadcasters transition to IP, we introduced IntelsatOne® Prism, a multimedia networking platform that enables users to seamlessly upgrade a legacy satellite-based network to a next-gen hybrid satellite and terrestrial converged IP network. This facilitates the move to new business models that will help with the transition to IP and gives providers the flexibility needed to pursue rapid changes in today’s broadcast technology environment.

The move to IP isn’t limited to only distribution. The shift to IP also impacts contribution.  For this case, IntelsatOne Prism simplifies live events with a single satellite solution to integrate voice, video and IP while minimizing engineering resources on site.

And newly announced at IBC, we have teamed the benefits of the IntelsatOne Prism multimedia platform with IP services provider Dejero to launch CellSat, a highly reliable connectivity solution that blends cellular connectivity with satellite connectivity to provide extra reliability and ensure the transmission of broadcast quality video from any location.

This “blended” cellular and Ku-band IP solution can deliver 10-Mbps signals for live television coverage from remote locales, adding resiliency and robustness with the connectivity and throughput necessary for successful live broadcasting. By combining cellular with Ku-band IP satellite connectivity, the CellSat solution provides broadcasters with the confidence to go live from more locations and ensure the consistent quality of their content.

The industry’s move toward IP is gaining steam, and if discussions at IBC 2017 are any indicator, advancements will only continue in the coming months. With offerings like IntelsatOne Prism and CellSat, Intelsat is producing solutions that leverage the power of satellite to enhance IP-based offerings. These advancements ultimately help give providers the support needed to deliver consistently high-quality broadcasts from any location.