Multiscreen and OTT topics expand at TelcoTV
The explosion of over-the-top onto the scene, coupled with the proliferation of tablets and consumer demand to stream video to such devices, has led to a quasi-renaissance in the telco sector.
The tenth anniversary of TelcoTV in New Orleans saw the narrative of multiscreen and over-the top expand from “Shall we do this?” to “How shall we do this?” At last year’s show in Las Vegas, much of the focus seemed to be on linear video delivery and bandwidth management on that front. However, the explosion of over-the-top onto the scene, coupled with the proliferation of tablets and consumer demand to stream video to such devices, has led to a quasi-renaissance in the telco sector. Content providers are faced with the proposition of delivering video to multiple devices, which involves numerous thorny problems, not the least of which is network topology and managing the bandwidth. Naturally, there is a desire to monetize over-the-top video delivery, but first, there is recognition that quality of service for such delivery is no longer a competitive advantage, but a competitive need.
Walking the floor of the show, I saw multiscreen and over-the-top solutions in nearly every booth. It was a reflection of the experience I had at IBC in Amsterdam. I moderated a panel entitled “Quality Assurance in a Multiscreen World” in New Orleans, and that mirrored the general theme of concern for telcos. Quality of experience is key to any video service. However, the cost of deploying multiscreen solutions is not small, and the telcos are faced with the choice between value-added services and attempting to monetize certain aspects of video delivery. Additionally, over-the-top video is quickly becoming somewhat integrated into the walled gardens of service providers, shifting the definition into a more shadowy realm.
With some telcos looking into deploying their own content delivery networks in order to better manage how content is routed across their networks, other problems present themselves. Where to put the transcoding in the network? How to guarantee quality video for iOS, Silverlight, and Flash? Where to cache content? All these questions and more face the telcos in the coming years, and their search for solutions will be very illuminating, and will, I believe, drive innovation moving forward. When I said “renaissance” above, I meant it. It certainly is a very exciting time to follow digital television.