Sky Italia adopts Harmonic’s VOS platform for new HD OTT headend

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    By Barry Flynn

    Italian Pay TV operator Sky Italia has become one of the first Harmonic customers to adopt its new VOS software-based media processing platform.

    Unveiled at NAB earlier this year, VOS allows Harmonic’s customers to deploy a complete, virtualized media processing architecture from ingest to delivery, with the aim of providing increased operational flexibility, scalability and efficiency.

    Massimo Bertolotti, Head of Innovation and Multimedia Distribution at Sky Italia, said VOS was the foundation for a new ‘HD OTT headend’ Harmonic was building for the Pay TV operator to allow it to distribute over 60 premium channels to Telecom Italia’s ‘ultra-broadband’ customers using a new Sky HD decoder.

    This would allow Sky Italia to “offer the same video quality to both DBS and OTT customers,” said Bertolotti.

    Bertolotti said two key points for Sky Italia were the quality offered by Harmonic’s system as well as its stability. It also offered the operator the potential to use “a single system for all distribution.” Sky Italia was “ready to operate in this way for the next step,” he said.

    Sky Italia is leveraging some new VOS features announced at IBC which seek to unify the broadcast and multiscreen media processing chain through the inclusion of packaging-on-the-fly and low-latency origin server functionalities. Originally developed for Harmonic’s ProMedia family of integrated multiscreen applications, these are now available in Harmonic’s new VOS-powered ProMedia X Origin streaming media server, shown for the first time at IBC.

    Bertolotti also revealed that Sky Italia’s new headend would use the new software-based Electra XVM media processer, the fruit of Harmonic’s recent decision to ‘virtualise’ its encoding products. This is based around Harmonic’s PURE Compression Engine, which supports SD and HD MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC, and HEVC codecs over CBR as well as VBR and ABR encoding schemes.

    At IBC, Harmonic also announced the release of its new Polaris suite of tools for playout management, which is integrated with its Spectrum media server family.

    Harmonic described this as its first venture into ‘media orchestration’ tools designed to help its clients manage the operations that accompany video delivery – such as changing the encoding rate of a channel or its format.

    Harmonic said that adoption of Polaris would mean that delivery of video channels with advanced capabilities could be be achieved “in a fraction of the time with a fraction of the resources” previously possible.

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