EE Leads Validation For Perseus, But Questions Remain: IBC 2015
Compression specialist V-NOVA has been racking up the validations for its Perseus encoding technology. IRT, EE, and NTT DATA have all performed trials and reported success, while new integrations with transcoding equipment from Imagine Communications and Thomson Video Networks were announced at IBC.
However, benchmarks tests for the technology remain under NDA and are not released and, while the technology is claimed to be interoperable since it runs as a software layer on standard equipment and infrastructure, it is proprietary at a time when the industry is arguing for a move toward open systems.
UK operator EE has trialled the compression solution to stream 4K over its 4G network and could be exploring options to deliver HD and 4K content to mobile for BT Sport since the UK telco is in the process of acquiring EE.
"The trial with V-Nova has proven that smart software like Perseus can make a big difference for mobile network operators managing their long term video strategy," said Matt Stagg, head of video strategy at EE during a press conference in Amsterdam. "This trial showed us that EE's network combined with Perseus software can bring streaming video to the masses. Even in a dense urban environment we can steam UHD content over mobile when we combine these technologies."
EE sees potential in the technology for increasing spectrum capacity (via LTE Broadcast) to reach rural areas, those in dense urban populations, and users on moving transport.
"We have the broadest spectrum in the UK but capacity is still finite so anything we can do save spectrum is holy grail for us. Not only can this save spectrum but save backhaul. To be honest we we all surprised by what this technology can do," says Stagg.
"We've gone from being an industry novelty to commercial reality in five months since NAB," said Guido Meardi, V-Nova CEO and co-founder. "The proposition is simple. It's a software upgrade of the existing ecosystem and infrastructure that would allow UHD over HD, HD over SD, and SD over sub-audio networks."
Imagine is integrating Perseus capabilty into its SelenioFlex Live and Zenium workflow management platform for realtime transcoding and IP playout workflows. Thomson Video Networks is adding Perseus as an option to its VS7000 encoding platform for head end deployment for DTH, IPTV and cable operators.
Meardi added: “We have shown Perseus for mobile and fixed applications, contribution and transport with and now the missing piece of the puzzle—encoding—is in place. The significance of this is that the entire tv and media delivery chain is now Perseus-enabled.”
The EE trial addressed a number of challenges including the transport of UHD/4K content over the mobile network, delivering HD video to tablets and phones while travelling, and providing reliable video services to rural areas, where mobile bandwidth may be limited.
The test distributed UHD/4K video over EE’s 4G network in a densely populated area of central London, near Paddington station at rush hour. The 4K content—footage from EE’s "Wembley Cup’ series—was streamed to a 65" 4K screen at 50fps via the EE "Osprey" 4G Wi-Fi hotspot.
The same content was also delivered in HD to tablets and phones at bitrates ranging from 300Kbps to 1.5Mbps, both on the road and in a rural location in The New Forest, in the south of England.
"A continuous high-quality viewer experience" was claimed to be maintained throughout the 90-mile journey, handing the signal over between more than 40 sites, and at the very edge of the EE 4G network.
"We have built in a massive amount of capacity to our network because we know that our customers are demanding more and more video – it’s growing at a phenomenal rate," says Stagg. "As well as adding more bandwidth, we’re looking at intelligent, cost-effective ways of delivering video more efficiently, and more reliably in challenging environments such as densely populated urban areas and travelling at high speed in a car or on a train.
"Early discussions about Perseus focused primarily on its exceptional compression performance," said Meardi. "The trial with EE delivers many advantages beyond bitrate reduction—including significantly increased processing speed, lower power consumption, increased robustness, and graceful, block-free degradation at ultra low bitrates."
German broadcast body IRT (Institut für Rundfunktechnik) has validated V-Nova, saying it has carried out tests of Perseus in contribution applications.
The Munich-based R&D wing for German broadcaster ARD and ZDF evaluated the technology against benchmarks set by JPEG2000 in contribution and production codecs AVC Intra Class 100 and XAVC-Intra 100 at comparable bitrates. The results, based on a mixture of objective and subjective evaluations, "confirm a substantial improvement compared to JPEG2000 and a quality that challenges H.264-intra-based production codecs," according to a statement from IRT. The tests were performed on HD interlaced content (1080i/25), which represents the large majority of content being acquired today.
"The IRT has always been at the forefront of modern media and the technology innovations needed to move our industry forward. Testing Perseus is important to enable our broadcasting, media, communications-engineering and IT clients to have a quantitative basis to assess the potential of this new technology" said Dr. Rainer Schäfer, General Manager TV, IRT.
"These results, combined with the many other benefits of Perseus, such as Continuous Hierarchical Adaptability translate to large bitrate reductions and the real commercial value that our customers are seeing," said Meardi. "We know that the benefits are even larger at higher resolutions such as UHD/4K and higher frame rates such as 1080p50/60."
NTT DATA Trial
In a related announcement, V-Nova said global IT service provider NTT DATA had integrated Perseus into its video encoding solutions. In particular, the compression tech has been added to NTT DATA’s Hyper for automated batch video transcoding and NRT products.
"With a simple software update, NTT DATA solutions can now offer OTT and VoD operators a real 'game changer, 'including the ability to extend their service reach by ten times," Meardi said.
"By integrating Perseus we provide a unique product that is able to assure the best quality and effectiveness for on demand video," Riccardo Ferrari, senior manager Multimedia Solution NTT DATA Italia said in a statement.
The compression specialist hopes Sky's profile will lift not only the attributes of its Perseus technology but an outcome similar to Amazon's swoop for Elemental
Perseus technology is in use for contribution feeds for Sky Italia; company says it accommodates greater color depth and higher dynamic range in addition to offering efficiency gains
Companies and Suppliers Mentioned