With SMPTE ST 2110 broadcasters have the foundation for interoperability

Broadcasters can confidently pursue their transitions to IP with minimal disruption by following certain basic guidelines. That’s the view of the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), an industry-wide coalition of vendors, including Rohde & Schwarz, that has helped devise and support an interoperability framework.

IP for broadcast
IP for broadcast

AIMS is providing this guidance at a moment when the full scope of interoperability requirements as embodied in SMPTE ST 2110, a crucial step on the IP roadmap, have been met by leading vendors in all product categories.

SMPTE ST 2110 is the standard that builds on and goes beyond three earlier phases of the roadmap, notably SMPTE ST 2022-6, the protocol that bridges between SDI-based and IP-based equipment.

Multi-part standards suite

The ST 2110 standards suite is multipart, with the essential parts technically stable according to SMPTE. Here’s a breakdown of its status today:

SMPTE ST 2110-10/-20/-30 — addressing system concerns and uncompressed video and audio streams — are now approved standards.

SMPTE ST 2110-40 — concerning metadata such as captions, subtitles, active format description, time codes, dynamic range, and more — is anticipated to be published early 2018.

SMPTE ST 2110-21 — specifying traffic shaping and delivery timing of uncompressed video — also likely to be published in the new year.

Additional portions of the standards suite, such as support for compressed audio and video, will follow a similar process and will likely be published in time for the 2018 NAB Show.

Invest in IP

Broadcasters should be reassured that they can invest in products now that will support SMPTE ST 2110. More than 60 vendors participated in a IP Showcase at IBC demonstrating interoperability and solutions based on the suite with more than 70% of AIMS members committed to incorporating it in their products.

The caveat being that while the industry can start manufacturing equipment, “a fully interoperable system will require additional areas to be addressed, tying up the standards suite” – according to SMPTE.

Bridge from SDI to IP

Thanks to the SDI-to-IP bridging support provided by SMPTE ST 2110, broadcasters can take an incremental approach by building new islands of IP-centric operations while continuing to rely on legacy equipment elsewhere. Alternatively, they can start out by building IP-based facilities as replacements to the resources they’ve allocated for redundancy, which they can switch to for primary operations once they’re satisfied everything works as expected. And when they find themselves in greenfield situations with no existing SDI facilities, they can build all-IP infrastructures from scratch.

AIMS guidance

AIMS’ guidance begins with the factors that must be taken into account when implementing IP-based production in the simplest standalone studios and self-contained production trucks. It outlines a plan for more complex situations where productions are executed across multiple locations in a LAN-linked campus environment. The additional complexity of designing an IP topology where multiple facilities are linked over distances of 2 km or more is also clarified.

For example, even in cases where a broadcaster has already committed to installing SDI-based UHD equipment, use of IP gateways to consolidate the quad-interface outputs for delivery over IP connections within that facility is well advised.

The AIMS agenda does not end with SMPTE ST 2110. The latest objective provides a common means of identifying and registering devices across all workflows and locations based on the Network Media Open Specifications (NMOS) IS-04 developed by the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA).

It’s important to recognize that, no matter where a broadcaster is in its decision to move to IP, the industry has achieved consensus on a foundation to interoperability. This should allow broadcasters to move forward with implementation of IP-based production at whatever pace suits their needs.

Posted by Adrian Pennington, technology journalist. 12th December 2017.