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OPINION: Key encoding requirements for UHD delivery

Advanced technologies such as HEVC, H-ARQ and network bonding are the future of encoding, asserts Ronan Poullaouec, CTO, AVIWEST

The message is clear: consumers today are excited about UHD and 4K video content. In fact, shipments of 4K UHD displays are projected to reach 4 million units in 2015, marking a 208% increase over 2014, according to CEA’s US Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecasts. The challenge for the broadcasting industry is finding a way to deliver UHD and 4K content in the most affordable way possible without any resolution degradation.

To address the growing demand for UHD/4K video content, broadcasters need to deploy a more efficient encoding solution than H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. The HEVC video compression standard was recently developed, enabling broadcasters to deliver the same level of video quality at half the bit rate, or improved video quality at the same bit rate. HEVC encoding will transform the television experience by facilitating the delivery of video content with higher resolution, frame rate, and colour gamut, as well as immersive audio.

Yet, beyond HEVC, there are other capabilities that broadcasters need to look for in a next-generation encoding solution in order to deliver UHD and 4K video in its full glory. For instance, broadcasters should choose an encoding system that has been integrated with powerful contribution network protocols, such as the H-ARQ (Hybrid Automatic Repeat Request) mechanism.

H-ARQ is a mix of Forward Error Correction (FEC) and packet retransmission coding that enables broadcasters to support any type of managed or unmanaged contribution links, including the public internet. An encoder leveraging the hybrid method for error control performs better in poor signal conditions than encoders using the traditional ARQ mechanism. Ultimately, this ensures that broadcasters do not lose any video quality once the UHD/4K content hits contribution networks.

Network bonding technology has emerged as another feature that broadcasters wanting to deliver UHD/4K should look for in a video compression solution. Encoders that are capable of detecting and bonding together multiple IP-based networks (eg., 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and satellite) can guarantee the delivery of live transmissions, with no latency. The encoder assures a high quality of experience for viewers by compressing video content based on the realtime characteristics of bonded networks, their bit rates, and delays, resulting in a stunning video resolution.

AVIWEST believes that advanced technologies such as HEVC, H-ARQ, and network bonding are the future of encoding, allowing broadcasters to deliver UHD and 4K video, whether live or on-demand, affordably, from any remote corner of the world.

At IBC2015, we are demonstrating these technologies via our new DMNG HE4000 HEVC 4K contribution video encoder. The HE4000 encoder makes it possible for broadcasters to deliver crystal-clear 4K content at low bit rates.

Through AVIWEST SafeStreams technology, the encoder bonds together IP networks to assure the delivery of live transmissions even in the midst of unpredictable cellular network conditions. Recent innovations in encoding technology are helping propel the industry toward producing and delivering more content in UHD and 4K.