By Dr Paul Stallard, 07 November, 2012.

Streaming Media Europe 2012: MPEG-DASH- Opportunities and Impacts on Adaptive Streaming

I recently had the pleasure of taking part on a panel session on the subject of MPEG-DASH at Streaming Media Europe in London. I was joined by Cornelia Patzlsperger, Interactive Solutions, Interlake Media GmbH; Alex Zambelli, Media Platform Evangelist, Microsoft; and Tristan Leteurte, CEO, Anevia, to discuss MPEG-DASH’s key features, its rate of adoption, the challenges for a wider adoption and the opportunities and impacts on adaptive streaming.

The session went very well, with around 50 people from some of the industry’s most exciting and innovative providers of streaming products, services and content in attendance. It was very encouraging to see such a high level of interest from the audience, many of whom had remained from the previous keynote session, which featured Sidharth Jayant, Content Service Manager, Europe, Samsung Electronics Europe.

We began the discussion by looking at how we see the industry evolving over the next few years; namely an explosion of video-capable connected devices and a consumer demand to view their video services on whatever device they chose. MPEG-DASH will play a crucial part in enabling new multi-screen video services, helping ensure broadcasters and content owners remain in control of their own future. We are very much behind MPEG-DASH, as we see it as a way to simplify and converge the delivery of IP video. It will help improve TV infrastructure, complement breakthrough solutions and offer new business models for service providers and operators.

There are a number of specific technical advantages that we can get from MPEG-DASH; for example, common encryption and multiple DRM support. Cornelia Patzlsperger commented that MPEG-DASH offers a more cost-effective standard that will help to improve better customer communications in both the B2B and B2C sectors.

I think from our point of view, the overriding issue is that our customers are keen to implement MPEG-DASH to simplify their systems and improve their delivery. Consumers are demanding video on a wide range of different devices, and it’s up to operators and service providers to enable these devices while keeping their overheads down. By consolidating today’s fragmented landscape of incompatible HTTP adaptive streaming formats into one common standard, MPEG-DASH has thecapacity to reduce complexity and costs and allow service providers to concentrate their efforts of building compelling services. Chip manufacturers are already starting to incorporate MPEG-DASH within their mobile phone chip sets, to develop functionality and the ability to play directly across several devices.

Alex Zambelli told the audience that standardization is reliant on momentum. Until this year, we have seen multiple players competing with their various video streaming technologies but it’s very encouraging to see two of the three main players displaying their commitment to support MPEG-DASH in their product development. It will be very interesting to see whether Apple will continue to compete in this race by concentrating solely on the development of HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) or whether they too will rally around MPEG-DASH.

If Apple does not decide to support MPEG-DASH, the worst case scenario would be a situation where there are two flavors of adaptive video streaming in the future. This would still be a very significant improvement to the current industry position, but as DASH becomes established we expect to see the whole industry converge on MPEG-DASH as the universal standard for adaptive video streaming.

As my fellow panelist, Tristan Leteurte, highlighted, bringing telcos and operators together would send out a very strong marketing message for our industry. Ultimately, it will help us to accelerate the migration paths from the current proprietary formats towards MPEG-DASH.

Today’s fragmented marketplace is a distraction for operators and service providers.  With the adoption of MPEG-DASH, those providers can focus their efforts where they really matter – procuring great content, monetization, and packaging a video service that offers a fantastic user experience across all devices.

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Written by Dr Paul Stallard

Paul Stallard is Head of Systems Management at Ericsson Solution Area TV. He joined the company in 1998 and previously held positions in Research, Engineering, Product Management and Solutions Architecture. As Head of Systems Management, he is responsible for coordinating the future direction of Ericsson's television portfolio. Paul has a PhD in Electronic Engineering and, prior to joining Ericsson, was a lecturer in Computer Science specializing in computing architecture and network protocols.

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