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Business and regulator challenges to OTT remain, but “technology is ready”

Organisational, regulatory and business challenges are a greater impediment to the development of multiscreen OTT services than technology hurdles, IBC attendees at a seminar on Multi-Network Solutions in the Real World heard yesterday.

The event was organised by content security specialist Verimatrix and featured its technology partners Divitel and RGB Networks as well as a representative of Philippines-based broadcaster ABS-CBN International. Verimatrix has used IBC to unveil a commercial-grade MPEG-DASH solution while the company and Divitel also announced that they had paired up to extend the reach of Dutch cable operator Ziggo’s TV app for Apple and Android devices.

Sherry Ann Supelana, head of global engineering and technical services at Philippines broadcaster ABS-CBN International said that the main problem with developing a unified infrastructure for OTT delivery was the broadcaster’s legacy organisational structure, which was oriented towards analogue delivery of services. It was not practical to tear up existing workflows and reorganise departments to create a unified organisational structure to deliver new services, she said.

Divitel CEO Dirk Jaeger told attendees that OTT would not change the paradigm of service provision. Consumers will still require Quality of Service and service providers need to accommodate local network characteristics and local rights and regulatory requirements, he said.

Jaeger said that service providers had become multi-service operators, and more recently had tried to integrate their offerings into single full-service systems. He pointed to the example of UPC’s Horizon TV product, launched on Friday. Jaeger said that provision of services on a global basis still required localisation because of content rights issues and because of the varying legal and regulatory framework at national or sub-national level.

Yuval Fisher, chief technology officer of RGB Networks, said that there were multiple challenges to delivering OTT services. Securing content rights was increasingly difficult as content rights holders were realising that OTT content has a value, he said.

Fisher said that operators needed to choose a transcoding solution that could address multipe networks and devices from a single architecture. It was also necessary to choose a single DRM or CA system for video services to hybrid and OTT networks, he said. However, said Fisher, this was more difficult than was generally realised.

Tom Munro, CEO of Verimatrix, told attendees that piracy presented an ongoing threat and that the development of high bandwidth networks and OTT video presented new challenges. While in the past terminal devices were replicated and the solution for service providers was to install smartcards and replace them when they were cracked, now piracy was increasingly based on the passing of control words over the internet. Broadband pipes were now big enough for content to be easily redistributed once it was decrypted, said Munro. Devices are only as secure as the silicon within them, he said. The more that can be done to secure the silicon core, the less operators needed to be reliant on secondary mechanisms including smartcards, he said.

People increasingly expect to view content outside the home and operators were looking to cater to this while retaining content in a secure environment, said Munro. He cited a Farncombe study that showed control word sharing was likely to decline relatively as a source of content theft while internet redistribution of broadcast and downloaded content was likely to increase as a proportion.