Media and Broadcast
Next Generation Communications
The media and broadcast industry is evolving at an extremely rapid pace. We now expect high-quality from all of our media content, whether this content is from pre-recorded shows, live outside broadcast (OB) events or even incidents unfolding in real time. As a consumer, I also expect to be able decide on how to consume my content, real time, on-demand or a mixture of these where I skip between real time and on-demand.
To achieve this, it is essential that the communications network supports the broadcasters in delivering this high-quality content, when and where it is needed in the network. This is best achieved by taking specialist media solutions and linking them with specialist telecoms solutions that extend these media capabilities across a countrywide network.
Specialist Media Solutions
The aim of the specialist media solution is to provide a fully integrated solution that eliminates the need for additional external media devices.
The media solutions are optimized to support the needs of media and broadcast, with a wide range of interfaces, video and audio signal processing and media optimized routing and transport with crossbar switching. This allows any incoming media stream to be mapped to any output or even to multiple outputs. This flexibility significantly reduces cabling and set-up time and eliminates the need for re-wiring when production setups change.
But it is not just about interfaces and switching, specialist media solutions also provide broadcast-optimized processing and conversion features like Frame Store /Frame Synchronizers and Embedders/De-embedders at any selected input and output. These features are software-based must be software based so that they can be expanded in the future without the need to modify or add extra hardware.
Finally, the whole solution needs to be managed by network management system that talks the language of the media operator, so that it is intuitive for them to operate. This means fewer mistakes will be made when putting the media network together in high-pressured situations.
More and more media content is being gnerated and this content is becoming higher and higher capacity, with the need to provide HD, 3D and even ultra HD to consumers. This means that higher and higher capacity links need to be made between the regional studios and OB locations and the broadcast and content storage locations. These links need to be “always-up” as audiences will not accept loss of content, particularly during live transmission. And in the era of increasing cyber-crime it is essential that the media operators are able to ensure the security of their data.
Telecoms solutions, based on optical networking, offer the ability to support the media operators in meeting these needs:
- Very High Capacity Links: Optical transmission has reached the point where 10G per wavelength is priced as a commodity and 100G per wavelength is also rapidly reaching this point. With DWDM technology, 96 channels can be multiplexed onto a single optical fibre, so if 100G wavelengths are used, each optical fibre can carry 9.6Tbit/s
- Ultra-low Latency: Optical transmission is inherently ultra-low latency with 5 microseconds per km transmission delay and a few 100 microseconds delay in the network elements
- Long distance transmission: Optical transmission has been desgned to form countrywide backbone networks
- Highly reliable and available: Optical transmission networks are desgned to provide five 9s availability and provide a variety and schemes to provide equipemnt and network protection
- Highly secure: Modern optical transmission equipment provides the ability to encrypt the traffic. Genericaly this can be done at the wavelenght level, however some vendors offer the ability to encrypt on a per service carried.
These characteristics make optical networks ideal to be used, off-the-shelf, to link together the high capacity, latency senstive, specialist media solutions to form a countrywide media network.
Bringing telecom and media solutions together
The diagram above gives an example of how the two solutions could be brought together to provide an integrated countrywide solution for media operators.
The specialist media network, is connected into the optical network by the optical aggregation devices. These device perform three functions:
- They take the traffic from the media solutions, aggregate it and convert into optical wavelengths for the most efficient transmission over the optical backbone
- Allow encryption to be added to the media traffic when and where the it is required
- Act as a demarcation point. The media operator may decide to use their own backbone transmission network in which case traffic from the aggregation layer is integrated onto this backbone. However, the media operator may decide to pay a Telecoms Service Provider to transport the traffic. In case the optical aggregation layer is used as the hand-off pint between the media operator and the service provider
As I have already mentioned, network management is key, to ensure correct configuration and high network availability. For the media operator to achieve this, not only do they need visibility of the media solution they also need to see how the optical transmission network is operating. This is a problem, because by in large, media operators are not telecoms experts. In the proposed solution above, the media operator with a portal to view the optical network – however the information on this screen is optimized for media operators. i.e uses media terminology and only provides the information that the media operator needs.
It can be seen that bringing these solutions allow Media and Broadcast operators to have a fully optimized, customizable solution that provides all the media capabilities they expect at the point of access and yet be able to connect remote production sites and locations to centralized studios whilst retaining the high-quality that they need.