SMPTE 2015: Experts Greenlight IP Technology for Broadcast

Television production facilities began incorporating IP, or Internet Protocol, technology several years ago, and an increasing number of broadcast equipment manufacturers are supporting the video/audio signal transport format. But is IP networking mature and robust enough for broadcasters to consider replacing their now-standard SDI networks with “all IP” versions? Broadcasters and broadcast equipment manufacturers have been busy trying to answer that question, and some of their results were presented at SMPTE 2015.

TV Technology reports that BT Media & Broadcast head of media futures John Ellerton reported that, “software-defined networking and network function virtualization (NFV) are poised and waiting to move into the TV broadcast/production arena in a big way.” His company created a laboratory model of a virtualized network from off-the-shelf components to test out the possibilities.

family-TV“We were passing uncompressed video using switches that cost a few thousand dollars,” he said. “We think there is a future there in being able to bring all of this together in [a complete system].”

Cisco chief software architect Pradeep Kathail and Grass Valley production chief technology officer Charles Meyer examined, via extensive testing, whether the reliability achieved with today’s SDI technology could be achieved with IP.

“The system had to have the dependability and quality necessary for video production,” said Kathail. Their conclusion was that “building a network using readily available IP hardware will have either the same or greater availability than an SDI network.”

“We not at the bleeding edge,” said Meyer. “At this point the systems are ready.”

Media Systems Consulting principal Al Kovalick talked about how to build an IP plant for media, asserting that SDI cores “are going to get squeezed out” at television plants. He explained features of migrating to IP networks, and noted the positive result. “The really beautiful thing about IP is that you will have a flexibility that you’ve never had before.”