Video: Preparing for 5G Video Streaming

Will streaming really be any better with 5G? What problems won’t 5G solve? Just a couple of the questions in this panel from the Streaming Video Alliance. There are so many aspects of 5G which are improvements, it can be very hard to clearly articulate for a given use case which are the main ones that matter. In this webinar, the use case is clear: streaming to the consumer.

Moderating the session, Dom Robinson kicks off the conversation asking the panellists to dig below the hype and talk about what 5G means for streaming right now. Brian Stevenson is first up explaining that the low-bandwidth 5G option really useful as it allows operators to roll out 5G offerings with the spectrum they already have and, given its low frequency, get a good decent a propagation distance. In the low frequencies, 5G can still give a 20% improvement bandwidth. Whilst this is a good start, he continues, it’s really delivering in the mid-band – where bandwidth is 6x – that we can really start enabling the applications which are discussed in the rest of the talk.

Humberto la Roche from Cisco says that in his opinion, the focus needs to be on low-latency. Latency at the network level is reduced when working in the millimetre wavelengths, reducing around 10x. This is important even for video on demand. He points out, though that delay happens within the IP network fabric as well as in the 5G protocol itself and the wavelength it’s working on. Adding buffers into the network drives down the cost of that infrastructure so it’s important to look at ways of delivering the overall latency needed at a reasonable cost. We also hear from Sanjay Mishra who explains that some telcos are already deploying millimetre wavelengths and focussing on advancing edge compute in high-density areas as their differentiator.

The panel discusses the current technical challenges for operators. Thierry Fautier draws from his experience of watching sports in the US on his mobile devices. The US has a zero-rating policy, he explains, where a mobile operator waives all data charges when you use a certain service, but only delivers the video at SD resolution at 1.5 Mbps. Whilst the benefits to this are obvious, it means that as people buy new, often larger phones, with better screens, they expect to reap the benefits. At SD, Thierry says, you can’t see the ball in Tennis, so there 5G will offer the over-the-air network bandwidth needed to allow the telcos to offer HD as part of these deals.

Preparing for 5G Video Streaming from Streaming Video Alliance on Vimeo.

The panel discusses the problems seen so far in delivering MBMS – multicast for mobile networks. MBMS has been deployed sporadically around the world in current LTE networks (using eMBMS) but has faced a typical chicken and egg problem. Given that both cell towers and mobile devices need to support the technology, it hasn’t been worth the upgrade cost for the telcos given that eMBMS is not yet supported by many chipsets including Apple’s. Thierry says there is hope for a 5G version of MBMS since Apple is now part of the 3GPP.

CMAF had a similar chicken and egg situation when it was finalised, there was hesitance in using it because Apple didn’t support it. Now with iOS 14 supporting HLS in CMAF, there is much more interest in deploying such services. This is just as well, cautions Thierry, as all the talk of reduced latency in 5G or in the network itself won’t solve the main problem with streaming latency which exists at the application layer. If services don’t abandon HLS/DASH and move to LL-HLS and LL-DASH/CMAF then the improvements in latency lower down the stack will only convey minimal benefits to the viewer.

Sanjay discusses the problem of coverage and penetration which will forever be a problem. “All cell towers are not created equal.” The challenge will remain as to how far and wide coverage will be there.

The panel finishes looking at what’s to come and suggests more ‘federations’ of companies working together, both commercially and technically, to deliver video to users in better ways. Thierry sums up the near future as providing higher quality experiences, making in-stadia experiences great and enabling immersive video.

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Brian Stevenson Brian Stevenson
Streaming Video Alliance
Humberto La Roche Humberto La Roche
Principal Engineer,
Sanjay Mishra Sanjay Mishra
Associate Fellow,
Thierry Fautier Thierry Fautier
President-Chair at Ultra HD Forum
VP Video Strategy Harmonic at Harmonic
Dom Robinson Moderator: Dom Robinson
Co-Founder, Director, and Creative Firestarter

Video: Case Study – ST 2110 4K OB Van for AMV

Systems based on SMPTE ST 2110 continue to come online throughout the year and, as they do, it’s worth seeing the choices they made to make it happen. We recently featured a project building two OB truck and how they worked around COVID 19 to deliver them. Today we’re looking at an OB truck based on Grass Valley and Cisco equipment.

Anup Mehta and Rahul Parameswaran from Cisco join the VSF’s Wes Simpson to explain their approach to getting ST 2110 working to deliver a scalable truck for All Mobile Video. This brief was to deliver a truck based on NMOS control, maximal COTS equipment, flexible networking with scalable PTP and security.

Thinking back to yesterday’s talk on Network Architecture we recognise the ‘hub and spoke’ architecture in use which makes a lot of sense in OB trucks. Using monolithic routers is initially tempting for OB trucks, but there is a need for a lot of 1G and 10G ports which tends to use up high-bandwidth ports on core routers quickly. Therefore moving to a monolithic architecture with multiple, directly connected, access switches makes them most sense. As Gerard Philips commented, this is a specialised form of the more general ‘spine-leaf’ architecture which is typically deployed in larger systems.

One argument against using IGMP/PIM routing in larger installations is that those protocols have no understanding of the wider picture. They don’t take a system-wide view like a SDN controller would. If IGMP is a paper roadmap, SDN is satnav with up to date road metrics, full knowledge of width/weight restrictions and live traffic alerts. To address this, Cisco created their own technology Non-Blocking Multicast (NBM) which takes in to account the bandwidth of the streams and works closely with Cisco’s DCNM (Data Centre Network Manager). These Cisco technologies allow more insight into the system as a whole, thus make better decisions.

Anup and Rahul continue to explain how the implementation of PTP was scaled by offloading the processing to line cards than relying on the main CPU of the unit before explaining how the DCNM, not only supporting the NBM feature, also supports GV Orbit. This is the configuration and system management unit from GV. From a security perspective, the network, by default, denies access to any connections into the port plus it has the ability to enforce bandwidth limits to stop accidental flooding or similar.

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Anup Mehta Anup Mehta
Product Manager,
Rahul Parameswaran Rahul Parameswaran
Senior Technical Product Manager,

Video: Using AMWA IS-06 for Flow Control on Professional Media Networks

In IP networks multicast flow subscription is usually based on a combination of IGMP (Internet Group Management Protocol) and PIM (Protocol Independent Multicast) protocols. While PIM allows for very efficient delivery of IP multicast data, it doesn’t provide bandwidth control or device authorisation.

To solve these issues on SMPTE ST 2110 professional media networks the NMOS IS-06 specification has been developed. It relies on a Software-Defined Networking, where traffic management application embedded in each single switch or router is replaced by a centralised Network Controller. This controller manages and monitors the whole network environment, making it bandwidth aware.

NMOS IS-06 specification provides a vendor agnostic Northbound interface from Network Controller to Broadcast Controller. IS-06 in conjunction with IS-04 (Discovery and Registration) and IS-05 (NMOS Device Connection Management) allows Broadcast Controller to automatically set up media flows between endpoints on the network, reserve bandwidth for flows and enforce network security. Broadcast Controller is also able to request network topology information from Network Controller, which can be used to create a user friendly graphic representation of the flows in the network.

In this presentation Rob Porter from Sony Europe explains the basics of NMOS IS-06, showing in details how setting up media flows with this specification fits into the IS-04 / IS-05 workflow. Rob emphasise that all AMWA NMOS specifications are completely open and available to anyone, allowing for interoperability between broadcast and network devices from different manufacturers.

The next speaker, Sachin Vishwarupe from Cisco Systems, focuses on the future works on IS-06, including provisioning feedback (such as insufficient bandwidth, no route available from sender to receiver or no management connectivity), flow statistics, security and grouping (similar to ”salvo” in SDI world).

There is also a discussion on extension of IS-06 specification for Network Address Translation (NAT), which would help to resolve problems caused by address conflicts e.g. when sharing resources between facilities.

You can find the slides here.

Watch now!


Rob Porter Rob Porter
Project Manager – Advanced Technology Team
Sony Europe
Sachin Vishwarupe
Principal Engineer
Cisco Systems

Video: The Good and the Ugly – IP Studio Production Case Study

What’s implementing SMPTE ST-2110 like in real life? How would you design your network and what were the problems? In this case study Ammar Latif from Cisco Systems presents the architecture, best practices and lessons learned they gleaned in this live IP broadcast production facility project designed for a major US broadcaster. Based on SMPTE ST-2110 standard, it spanned five studios and two control rooms. The central part of this project was a dual Spine-Leaf IP fabric with bandwidth equivalent of a 10,000 x 10,000 HD SDI router with a fully non-blocking multicast architecture. The routing system was based on Grass Valley Convergent broadcast controller and a Cisco DCNM media controller.

As the project was commissioned in 2018, the AMWA IS-04 and IS-05 specifications providing an inter-operable mechanism for routing media around SMPTE 2110 network were not yet available. Multicast flow subscription was based on a combination of IGMP (Internet Group Management Protocol) and PIM (Protocol Independent Multicast) protocols. While PIM is very efficient and mature, it lacks the ability to use bandwidth as a parameter when setting up a flow path. Ammar explains how Non-Blocking Multicast (NBM) developed by Cisco brings bandwidth awareness to PIM by signalling a type of data (video, audio or metadata).

The talk continues by discussing PTP distribution & monitoring, SMPTE 2022-7 seamless protection switching and remote site production. Ammar also lets us see how the user interfaces on the Cisco DCNM media controller were designed which include a visualisation of multicast flow, network topology and link saturation of ports.

You can find the slides here.

Watch now!


Ammar Latif
Principal Architect,
Cisco Systems