With the deregulation of the telecom industry, there has been a huge rise in the number of players providing voice services. Apart from new players, Gas companies and Railway Companies, which have previously setup communication infrastructure overlaying public networks for their own captive use have also started offering telephony services. Cable TV operators who could exploit the cable bandwidth to provide truly \u201cTriple-Play\u201d services i.e. multimedia services capable of allowing customers to communicate using voice, video and data.
Faced with potential erosion of their subscriber base, carriers the world over are also involved in providing additional value to the end users beyond merely offering voice services. While the first generation IP TV solutions are being rolled out by the tier-1 operators during 2006, many more operators are expected to provide such services in the near future.
Television service that could be delivered over broadband, called \u201cIP TV\u201d is being seen as an effective solution complement data and voice service providers. Efficient broadband modems such as ADSL2+ and increased use of fiber in the access networks (FTTx) have resulted in making such services a reality.
This paper addresses considerations in selecting and implementing IP TV solutions, general basics of IP TV and Tech Mahindra\u2019s approach to implementing such services for service providers.
Most solutions available in the market today were realized through opportunistic alliances between ecosystem players. This leads to extensive customization needs with consequent issues on the cost of the project. On the other-hand, it is also true that there is no one-stop shop for procuring an IP TV solution. The middle-path would be to choose a solution that is developed through a focused initiative leading to a strongly integrated setup of a majority of the components.
As IP TV grows in popularity, the need to scale the solution becomes important. Increased storage requirement (for services like VoD and network implemented PVR services) could lead to higher latency and performance degradation. A solution that uses an in-memory store coupled with a fail-proof redundancy scheme would ensure that there is little or no performance degradation as the solution is scaled to handle larger transaction volumes as compared to one that depends on hard-disk based systems (NAS, SAN etc.).
improved over time. As a result, it is difficult to achieve sustainable disk data transfer rates of more than 150 Mbps per disk drive, which corresponds to 75 H.264 streams at a data rate of 2 Mbps. With this performance limit, scaling the number of streams required by a centralized store becomes extremely resource- and space- intensive. For example, to achieve 150,000 streams would require 2,000 disk drives, assuming accesses to these disk drives could be perfectly load- balanced. In reality perfect load balancing is not feasible, further increasing the number of disk drives required. The cost, space, power, and reliability issues associated with such a large number of disk drives make this solution impractical.
With real-estate values in the market being high, a scaling solution would be cost effective only if the solution footprint is minimal. Solutions that make use of servers with very low form-factors and the use of blade servers would be critical to control this recurring cost.
Also, in a conventional IPTV architecture there is a bank of video servers and a separate network switch that connects the video servers to the broadband network. This can add significant cost to a video server solution. An architecture that integrates the video server and the video switching/routing function into one unit would eliminate the need for a separate network switch to cross-connect a large number of video servers thereby reducing solution footprint and overall cost.
One of the approaches to managing scaling without performance degradation and growth in solution footprint has been to go for a de-centralized setup for the storage solutions. De- centralized solutions tend to involve additional costs associated owing to the operations and maintenance of the distributed setup. Hence, a centralized option, if feasible makes better business sense.
For monitoring quality of transmission of program, it is usual to implement a monitor wall containing an array of stacked up Television sets. Programs are chosen randomly and presented on the television monitors for human observers to monitor. Layout of the monitoring wall to prevent human fatigue and managing the air-conditioning requirements of the room would be a critical requirement. Solutions that avoid the use of television sets could be considered as better options.
Lastly, but not in the least, the choice of solution elements and the ability to integrate them to provide a meaningful solution is essential for the success of the implementation. Issues at stake in this could be summarized as per list below.
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