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SAT>IP enables broadcast-to-IP home networking

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There is an important development for European multi-room and multiscreen TV services and that is SAT>IP. This is a communications specification that allows SAT>IP compatible servers to deliver content to SAT>IP compatible client devices, which can be IP set-top boxes and multiscreen devices. Championed by the satellite operator SES Astra, it is primarily intended to help DTH satellite platforms deploy broadcast-to-IP gateway/client solutions quickly and cost-effectively. It can be used with any broadcast input however, so in theory could be used in cable or DTT homes.

Broadcast-to-IP gateway/client solutions are where the incoming broadcast feed (which could be either linear or traditional on-demand over DVB) is transformed into IP inside a multimedia gateway so that streams can be redistributed around a customer home. Those streams could be anything from SD video delivered to a second room television to adaptive bit rate streams designed for tablets and smartphones. This home networking model is gaining traction as a way to get a full bouquet of content onto multiscreen devices inside the home.

Joel Ostrowski is Technical Director and a Co-Founder at Craftwork, a company that develops STB software stacks. Craftwork helped conceive the SAT>IP specification in 2010-11. He explains that it uses well-known technologies and protocols and is a low-level specification to ensure easy integration with existing DVB set-top boxes. It has a deliberately limited scope, something that helped get it to market without being overwhelmed by conflicting interests.

SAT-IP is going through a standards process with Cenelec and there is already a limited number of commercially available SAT>IP products, especially gateways. “Currently there is no real market up-take,” he admits, “but we are still in the infant stages.”

SES Astra believes broadband delivery direct to multiscreen devices is inadequate, due to bandwidth issues, and SAT>IP provides an alternative. Thomas Wrede, VP Reception Systems at the company, says it enables the delivery of satellite TV services anywhere in the home. “This satisfies the changing viewing habits of younger audiences in particular.” SES Astra oversees the certification of SAT>IP devices.

While the satellite signals can be converted to IP in a SAT>IP enabled LNB (Low Noise Block), the most likely scenario is that the LNB will feed the broadcast feeds to a SAT>IP enabled gateway, which converts the signals for IP redistribution.

CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) vendor Inverto Digital Labs is one of the pioneers for SAT>IP equipment, with an LNB solution and also its AirScreen gateway. With four broadcast tuners, AirScreen can receive content off four transponders simultaneously and therefore stream TV or radio programmes (including HDTV) to four client devices at the same time. Gil Laifer, Senior Director Products at Inverto claims there is a significant cost benefit when using SAT>IP as a whole-home solution compared to other approaches.

The AirScreen server can also be used in a DLNA/UPnP compatible mode if you need to stream across the home network to non-SAT>IP clients. Laifer thinks SAT>IP is superior to DNLA, though.

With SAT>IP the clients host and control their own channel list and treat the server as a remote tuner, rather than having to access channel ‘folders’ resident on the server. “Clients can request any information from the stream, including EPG, audio tracks, subtitles and Teletext,” he explains. He adds that EPG and Teletext are not available through DLNA.

In the first generation of Inverto SAT>IP server, targeted at the German market, the device redistributes SD channels to avoid transcoding. For multiroom viewing, content protection can be as simple as using the legacy CAS around the home, with DTCP-IP link protection or DRM for multiscreen devices.

Joel Ostrowski at Craftwork says the market focus has been on servers and there is a shortage of SAT>IP clients today. “Hopefully this will be resolved shortly when STB and TV manufacturers decide to support it. With a normal DVB stack it should be fairly straightforward to integrate. Even existing devices could quickly get enabled with a software upgrade.” He expects more client STBs to start appearing in 2014.

More information about SAT>IP

SES Astra provides a FAQ about SAT>IP on its website…

What is SAT>IP?
SAT>IP is a new IP-based architecture for receiving and distributing satellite signals.

What are the benefits of SAT>IP technology?
SAT>IP allows satellite programs to be distributed, like traditional IPTV, over any IP network. SAT>IP allows satellite programs to be received not just on IP capable Set-Top-Boxes but also on other modern IP capable devices: PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones. A SAT>IP software application is all that is needed to receive high quality satellite programming.

What are the usage scenarios for SAT>IP?
SAT>IP was designed with several usage scenarios in mind: from consumer in-home distribution to large professional distribution applications. SAT>IP will allow all of today’s satellite usage scenarios to be be ported into the IP world as well as open up many new possibilities for advanced applications.

How does it work?
SAT>IP specifies the communication protocol between SAT>IP servers which transform satellite signals to IP and SAT>IP clients which consume satellite content. By having a standardised communication protocol, industry can come up with various implementations for servers and clients.

Who developed SAT>IP?
The SAT>IP protocol was developed in a joint effort between the companies SES, BSkyB and Craftwork.

 

The main story above the FAQ is an excerpt from Videonet’s new report, ‘Mastering the home cloud. This report investigates what TV Anywhere now means for Pay TV operators and their channel partners and how they can exploit the efficiencies of broadcast-to-IP ‘home clouds’ to deliver a premium content and user experience on every screen. It explores the latest client device and networking options including CI Plus CAMs and SAT>IP, plus efforts to simplify whole-home deployments. The report includes insights from DISH, Liberty Global, CANAL+ Yomvi/Prisa TV, TRACE Sports, Eurosport, Vestel Group, TP Vision, Samsung, SNL Kagan, The Diffusion Group, NAGRA, EchoStar Technologies & Sling Media, Humax, SmarDTV, Broadcom, ViXS, SES Astra, Craftwork and Inverto, among others. You can download the report here.


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