The conversion from analog-to-digital television broadcasting is well underway, creating new business opportunities for broadcast equipment manufacturers, as well as television broadcasters and broadband service providers. In addition, new ways to distribute content, such as Internet protocol television (IPTV) and mobile TV, are rapidly evolving and deploying, creating further opportunities for innovation and growth. The availability of digital high-definition (HD) content is rapidly increasing. The number of HD channels available to the consumer is proliferating and HD-capable TV sets are setting new sales records. Underlying all of this is the ongoing quest for improved audio/video quality and lower bit rates to enable increased demand and lower costs of distribution, respectively.
Major industry trends in digital broadcasting include:
- HD Content Creation
- Content Scaling
- Compression Quality and Bit Rate Reduction Improvements
- IPTV Build Out
- Mobile TV
HD Content Creation
HD content creation is gaining ground worldwide. Europe, Asia, and many other geographies have embraced HD and are actively driving its adoption and promoting the benefits. Local broadcast stations and movie studios are increasingly upgrading their facilities to enable HD recording and broadcast. The Society of Motion Picture Television Engineers (SMPTE) passed several standards in 2006 that enabled cost-effective recording and production of full HD content in the 1080p format. As 1080p can further fuel the demand for HD content, broadcast stations and studios are scrambling to upgrade their facilities to take advantage of the higher quality video experience that is now possible.
Previously recorded content in a variety of formats currently exists and is a prime candidate for content scaling. This includes content originally recorded for PAL or NTSC broadcast and content recorded in standard-definition (SD) and HD formats. Content scaling enables upconversion to HD, cross conversion between formats, and efficient down scaling for applications such as mobile TV. As an example, real-time scaling enables the efficient simultaneous distribution of content in SD and HD formats through a variety of distribution types. Equipment sets that enable cost-effective, high-quality scaling will dominate in this solution space.
Compression Quality and Bit Rate Reduction Improvements
Before the availability of advanced digital compression, it was impossible to cost-effectively provide high-quality digital video to consumers. The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) changed that by developing standards for coded representation of digital audio and video. MPEG compression engines enable cost-effective transport of digital multimedia content to consumers. The group has specified several MPEG standards including MPEG-2 and H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (H.264). The newest compression standards provide the greatest inherent compression capability, yet the current technology used to implement the standard is fairly immature. As such, you can expect continued improvements in video quality and reduced bit rates over the next several years.
IPTV Build Out
IPTV is enabling telecom companies to include video in their product offering. IPTV has quickly evolved from concept to field trials to actual deployments. IPTV also offers cable companies considerable benefits including gradual cost reductions. The switched broadcasting technique enables efficient bandwidth utilization. In some localities and some countries, IPTV represents the missing link in the quest for distributing low-cost, triple, and quadruple plays to customers. IPTV can leverage some video equipment that already exists for traditional head-ends, but also requires specialized compression equipment and additional equipment at the network edge. Major efforts are underway to develop the equipment sets and infrastructure to support mass deployment of IPTV. Real-time, high-quality video delivery over IP requires unique capabilities such as minimizing packet loss, robust retry and fill, ameliorating effects of network delay and jitter, maintaining rock-solid audio/video (A/V) synchronization, and reducing video artifacts and macroblocking. IPTV is also broadening the horizon by making features like accelerated channel change, highly targeted ad insertion, and interactive multi-stream applications feasible.
Mobility, convenience, and personalization are the drivers behind the mobile TV trend. Deployment is just beginning, yet uptake has been very promising in Korea and many other areas throughout the world. As the “winning business model” is yet to be proclaimed, there is great opportunity for innovation and differentiation for equipment manufacturers in this market.
The Advantage of Partnering with Altera
Altera is the digital broadcast market leader of programmable solutions for equipment manufacturers. Altera’s solutions are embedded in video production and delivery equipment worldwide. Equipment manufacturers gain a competitive edge by leveraging Altera’s products and expertise. Altera provides a wide range of programmable devices with optimized intellectual property cores, microprocessors, powerful design software, and a variety of development kits to create a complete, easy-to-use design broadcast platform. In one integrated package, you get all the tools needed to win in this highly competitive market.
Take the Next Step
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- Contact Altera Sales & Distribution
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