DVB-I Standard Approved For IP Centric TV

DVB, the consortium developing open technical specifications for delivery of broadcast services, has formally approved its DVB-I specification for delivery of linear TV over IP networks including the internet.

The specification has been published as DVB BlueBook A177 following completion of the development work by the DVB Steering Board in Geneva, Switzerland.

The DVB-I specification was designed to bring the standard of linear TV delivered over the internet up to the level of the traditional broadcast experience both in video quality and user friendliness. A major focus lay in making the processes of search, discovery and navigation as straightforward as they are with leading broadcast services. This led to development of components allowing linear TV services to be discoverable over the internet, involving delivery of suitable metadata, as DVB Chair Peter MacAvock explained.

"In developing an internet-centric solution for linear television services, we are providing the industry with a crucial missing piece that raises internet-based delivery to the same level in the DVB ecosystem as RF-based content delivery," said MacAvock. "With these building blocks, addressing the discovery of DVB-I services and the delivery of programme metadata, DVB offers broadcasters and operators an exciting new deployment option."

The DVB-I specification defines DVB-I Service Lists, which allow internet-connected devices to find curated sets of linear services that can be delivered either through broadband or broadcast mechanisms. It also defines the mechanisms for retrieving electronic programme data for those services, which can be integrated into a single coherent offering that is accessed through a consistent user interface.

DVB-I can be regarded as a sequel to hybrid video standards such as HbbTV, which have evolved to help service providers incorporate broadband delivered content alongside traditional broadcast offerings. Such hybrid standards have so far been slanted towards broadcast, requiring DVB tuners in receiving devices, whether these are set tops or smart TVs. By contrast DVB-I is designed for a world where all content is delivered over IP, whether within the broadcast or broadband domain. This subtle distinction does not extend to the physical medium itself, which can still be satellite, cable or DTT, but just implies that all TV services will be encapsulated in IP.

Indeed, hybrid services can still be delivered inside the IP domain, so that connected TV and broadcast can continue coexisting without any need for software or firmware upgrades. This is necessary because not all viewing devices can connect to both the broadcast and broadband domains. A laptop lacking a broadcast connection can then be automatically routed to the Internet, while a legacy TV or set top without internet connectivity would go to IP over a broadcast medium. All such use cases would be enabled via the DVB-I service list.

Following publication of the DVB BlueBook, implementers can now develop DVB-I-enabled clients, while broadcasters and other content providers can make their services available via DVB-I. To accelerate implementation of DVB-I in the marketplace, DVB has also launched an RFP to build a reference application.

DVB then expects to select a supplier and complete negotiations before the end of 2019 in time to demonstrate the initial results at DVB World 2020, taking place in Valencia, Spain, 9-11 March. After that, the resulting DVB-I client will be made freely available under an open source license.

While DVB-I refers, in particular, to the newly approved specification for service discovery and programme information, the related ecosystem embraces other DVB specifications. These include the DVB-DASH streaming specification (DVB BlueBook A168), which has recently been updated to include a low-latency mode.

Also related to DVB-I is the forthcoming DVB specification for multicast adaptive bit rate streaming (DVB-mABR), for cases where the same linear content is delivered simultaneously over managed broadband networks to multiple receivers, as in live sports broadcasts. By only sending content as a single stream along all paths within the network irrespective of how many viewers there are, DVB-mABR will greatly reduce load on networks serving multiple simultaneous viewers of live or linear content.

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