Contribution and distribution using unmanaged networks a key focus at SMPTE2018

Moving IP media effectively over unmanaged networks was a key focus at SMPTE2018 in Los Angeles, October 22-25, 2018. A major stream in the conference programme was dedicated to the subject, including a presentation on Thursday by Martin Holmes, Senior Business Development Manager at Rohde & Schwarz (booth 322).

SMPTE 2018
SMPTE 2018

SMPTE2018 includes three days of technical sessions, high-tech exhibition hall and special events, including the Annual Awards Gala. In the conference, Holmes gave a presentation on the coming of age of contribution and distribution using unmanaged networks.

In the world of content contribution and distribution from remote sources, satellite and dedicated fibre links have served the industry well. There is a growing movement to use IP contribution over unmanaged networks, most importantly the internet.

Advances in unmanaged network (Internet) protocols open new paradigms to employ an unmanaged network to be used for the contribution and distribution of real-time video/audio sources.

The promise of utilizing an unmanaged network provides a low cost, reliable, flexible and scalable solution. Despite internet ubiquity, using an unmanaged network is not without technical challenges. An unmanaged network tends to be "bursty" which also leads to issues around buffer management and latency. As compression algorithms become more complex, packet loss as low as 1% becomes easily visible in images being delivered over an unmanaged network using typical internet protocols. But there are techniques to resurrect images suffering from more than 50% packet loss while maintaining processing and latency timing to that of a round-trip-ping.

Moving real-time signals across a network using a newer software only approach can be deployed simply while maintaining the reliability expectations of dedicated fibre links. These unmanaged network connections can exist for as long as they are required, they can be simply turned up and down and also be used as permanent connections or for the duration of an event while maintaining cost controls over the delivery of content.

Posted by Chris Dickinson, technology journalist and editor of the Always On blog. November 4, 2018.

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