Beam hopping is the relatively new ability of a satellite to move its beam so that it’s transmitting to a different geographical area every few milliseconds. This has been made possible by the advance of a number of technologies inside satellite which make this fast, constant, switching possible. DVB is harnessing this new capability to more efficiently deliver bandwidth to different areas.
This talk starts off with a brief history of DVB-S2 moving to DVB-S2X and the successes of that move. But we then see that geographically within a wide beam, two factors come in to play: The satellite throughput is limited by the amplifiers and TWTs, plus certain areas within the beam needed more throughput than others. By dynamically pointing a more focused beam using ferrite switches and steerable antennae – to name but two technologies at play – we see that up to 20% of unmet demand could be addressed.
The talk continues with the ESA’s Nader Alagha explaining some of the basics of directing beams talking about moving from cells and clusters (geographical areas) and then how ‘dwell times’ are the amount of time spent at each cell. He then moves on to give an overview of the R&D work underway and the expected benefits.
A little like in older CRT Televisions a little gap needs to be put into the signal to cover the time the beam is moving. For analogue television this is called ‘blanking’, for stellites this is an ‘idle sequence’. Each time a beam hopes, the carrier frequency, bandwidth and number of carriers can change.
Further topics explored are implementing this on geostationary and non-geostationary satellites, connecting hopping strategy to traffic and the channel models that can be created around beam hopping. The idea of ‘superframes’ is detailed where frames that need to be decoded with a very low SNR, the information is spread out and duplicated an number of times. This is supported in beam hopping with some modifications which require some pre-ambles and the understanding of fragmentation of these frames.
The talk closes discussing looking at future work and answering questions from the webinar attendees.
A bumper video here with 7 short talks from VideoLAN, Will Law and Hulu among others, all exploring the state of MPEG DASH today, the latest developments and the hot topics such as low latency, ad insertion, bandwidth prediction and one red letter feature of DASH – multi-DRM.
The first 10 minutes sets the scene introducing the DASH Industry Forum (DASH IF) and explaining who takes part and what it does. Thomas Stockhammer, who is chair of the Interoperability Working Group explains that DASH IF is made of companies, headline members including Google, Ericsson, Comcast and Thomas’ employer Qualcomm who are working to promote the adoption MPEG-DASH by working to imrove the specification, advise on how to put it into practice in real life, promote interoperability, and being a liaison point for other standards bodies. The remaining talks in this video exemplify the work which is being done by the group to push the technology forward.
Meeting Live Broadcast Requirements – the latest on DASH low latency!
Akamai’s Will Law takes to the mic next to look at the continuing push to make low-latency streaming available as a mainstream option for services to use. Will Law has spoken about about low latency at Demuxed 2019 when he discussed the three main file-based to deliver low latency DASH, LHLS and LL-HLS as well as his famous ‘Chunky Monkey’ talk where he explains how CMAF, an implementation of MPEG-DASH, works in light-hearted detail.
In today’s talk, Will sets out what ‘low latency’ is and revises how CMAF allows latencies of below 10 seconds to be achieved. A lot of people focus on the duration of the chunks in reducing latency and while it’s true that it’s hard to get low latency with 10 second chunk sizes, Will puts much more emphasis on the player buffer rather than the chunk size themselves in producing a low-latency stream. This is because even when you have very small chunk sizes, choosing when to start playing (immediately or waiting for the next chunk) can be an important part of keeping the latency down between live and your playback position. A common technique to manage that latency is to slightly increase and decrease playback speed in order to manage the gap without, hopefully, without the viewer noticing.
Chunk-based streaming protocols like HLS make Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) relatively easy whereby the player monitors the download of each chunk. If the, say, 5 second chunk arrives within 0.25 seconds, it knows it could safely choose a higher-bitrate chunk next time. If, however the chunk arrives in 4.8 seconds, it can choose to the next chunk to be lower-bitrate so as to receive the chunk with more headroom. With CMAF this is not easy to do since the segments all arrive in near real-time since the transferred files represent very small sections and are sent as soon as they are created. This problem is addressed in a later talk in this talk.
To finish off, Will talks about ‘Resync Elements’ which are a way of signalling mid-chunk IDRs. These help players find all the points which they can join a stream or switch bitrate which is important when some are not at the start of chunks. For live streams these are noted in the manifest file which Will walks through on screen.
Ad Insertion in Live Content:Pre-, Mid- and Post-rolling
Whilst not always a hit with viewers, ads are important to many services in terms of generating the revenue needed to continue delivering content to viewers. In order to provide targeted ads, to ensure they are available and to ensure that there is a record of which ads were played when, the ad-serving infrastructure is complex. Hulu’s Zachary Cava walks us through the parts of the infrastructure that are defined within DASH such as exchanging information on ‘Ad Decision Parameters’ and ad metadata.
In chunked streams, ads are inserted at chunk boundaries. This presents challenges in terms of making sure that certain parameters are maintained during this swap which is given the general name of ‘Content Splice Conditioning.’ This conditioning can align the first segment aligned with the period start time, for example. Zachary lays out the three options provided for this splice conditioning before finishing his talk covering prepared content recommendations, ad metadata and tracking.
Bandwidth Prediction for Multi-bitrate Streaming at Low Latency
Next up is Comcast’s Ali C. Begen who follows on from Will Law’s talk to cover bandwidth prediction when operating at low-latency. As an example of the problem, let’s look at HTTP/1.1 which allows us to download a file before it’s finished being written. This allows us to receive a 10-second chunk as it’s being written which means we’ll receive it at the same rate the live video is being encoded. As a consequence the time each chunk takes to arrive will be the same as the real-time chunk duration (in this example, 10 seconds.) When you are dealing with already-written chunks, your download time will be dependent on your bandwidth and therefore the time can be an indicator of whether your player should increase or decrease the bitrate of the stream it’s pulling. Getting back this indicator for low-latency streams is what Ali presents in this talk.
Based on this paper Ali co-authored with Christian Timmerer, he explains a way of looking at the idle time between consecutive chunks and using a sliding window to generate a bandwidth prediction.
Implementing DASH low latency in FFmpeg
Open-source developer Jean-Baptiste Kempf who is well known for his work on VLC discusses his work writing an MPEG-DASH implementation for FFmpeg called the DASH-LL. He explains how it works and who to use it with examples. You can copy and paste the examples from the pdf of his talk.
Managing multi-DRM with DASH
The final talk, ahead of Q&A is from NAGRA discussing the use of DRM within MPEG-DASH. MPEG-DASH uses Common Encryption (CENC) which allows the DASH protocol to use more than one DRM scheme and is typically seen to allow the use of ‘FairPlay’, ‘Widevine’ and ‘PlayReady’ encryption schemes on a single stream dependent on the OS of the receiver. There is complexity in having a single server which can talk to and negotiate signing licences with multiple DRM services which is the difficulty that Lauren Piron discusses in this final talk before the Q&A led by Ericsson’s VP of international standards, Per Fröjdh.
There are many ways of achieving a hybrid of OTT-delivered and broadcast-delivered content, but they are not necessarily interoperable. DVB aims to solve the interoperability issue, along with the problem of service discovery with DVB-I. This specification was developed to bring linear TV over the internet up to the standard of traditional broadcast in terms of both video quality and user experience.
DVB-I supports any device with a suitable internet connection and media player, including TV sets, smartphones, tablets and media streaming devices. The medium itself can still be satellite, cable or DTT, but services are encapsulated in IP. Where both broadband and broadcast connections are available, devices can present an integrated list of services and content, combining both streamed and broadcast services.
DVB-I standard relies on three components developed separately within DVB: the low latency operation, multicast streaming and advanced service discovery. In this webinar, Rufael Mekuria from Unified Streaming focuses on low latency distributed workflow for encoding and packaging.
The process starts with an ABR (adaptive bit rate) encoder responsible for producing streams with multiple bit rates and clear segmentation – this allows clients to automatically choose the best video quality depending on available bandwidth. Next step is packaging where streaming manifests are added and content encryption is applied, then data is distributed through origin servers and CDNs.
Rufael explains that low latency mode is based on an enhancement to the DVB-DASH streaming specification known as DVB Bluebook A168. This incorporates the chunked transfer encoding of the MPEG CMAF (Common Media Application Format), developed to enable co-existence between the two principle flavors of adaptive bit rate streaming: HLS and DASH. Chunked transfer encoding is a compromise between segment size and encoding efficiency (shorter segments make it harder for encoders to work efficiently). The encoder splits the segments into groups of frames none of which requires a frame from a later group to enable decoding. The DASH packager then puts each group of frames into a CMAF chunk and pushes it to the CDN. DVB claims this approach can cut end-to-end stream latency from a typical 20-30 seconds down to 3-4 seconds.
The other topics covered are: encryption (exhanging key parameters using CPIX), content insertion, metadata, supplemental descriptors, TTML subitles and MPD proxy.
Now Available On Demand
UHD transmissions have been available for many years now and form a growing, albeit slow-growing, percentage of channels available. The fact that major players such as Sky and BT Sports in the UK, NBCUniversal and the ailing DirecTV in the US, see fit to broadcast sports in UHD shows that the technology is trusted and mature. But given the prevalence of 4K in films from Netflix, Apple TV+ streaming is actually the largest delivery mechanism for 4K/UHD video into the home.
The host, Ben Swchwarz from the Ultra HD Forum, first introduces Ralf Schaefer who explores the work that was done in order to make UHD for distribution a reality. He’ll do this by looking at the specifications and standards that were created in order to get us where we are today before looking ahead to see what may come next.
Yvonne Thomas from the UK’s Digital TV Group is next and will follow on from Ben by looking at codecs for video and audio. HEVC is seen as the go-to codec for UHD distribution. As the uncompressed bitrate for UHD is often 12Gbps, HEVC’s higher compression ratio compared to AVC and relatively wide adoption makes it a good choice for wide dissemination of a signal. But UHD is more than just video. With UHD and 4K services usually carrying sports or films, ‘next generation audio‘ is really important. Yvonne looks at the video and audio aspects of delivering HEVC and the devices that need to receive it.
Finally we look at VVC, also known as H.266, the successor to HEVC, also known as H.265. ATEME’s Sassan Pejhan gives us a look into why VVC was created, where it currently is within MPEG standardisation and what it aims to achieve in terms of compression. VVC has been covered previously on The Broadcast Knowledge in dedicated talks such as ‘VVC, EVC, LCEVC, WTF?’, ‘VVC Standard on the Final Stretch’, and AV1/VVC Update.
Communication Working Group Chair,
Ultra HD Forum
VP Standards R&I
DTG (Digital TV Group)
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