BT unveils multicast-for-live-streaming technology MAUD

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BT Group has unveiled what it describes as a pioneering technology to deliver live content over the internet – Multicast-Assisted Unicast Delivery (MAUD).

BT says that broadcasters including the BBC, will be involved in evaluating and potentially trialling the technology to support a range of live content.

Unlike unicast streamiong, MAUD technology uses multicast to group single streams into a shared stream. BT sauys that MAUD has a significant advantage over regular multicast technology as its integration is made transparent to the player application. This means content service providers don’t need to modify their customer apps to take advantage of this technology.

According to BT, MAUD uses up to 50% less bandwidth during peak events, reducing energy usage through the use of fewer caches.

Boosting the case for multicast, BT has published new research that shows that 90% of UK viewers still consume live content – primarily news and sport – via television, with more than half doing so at least once a day.

Over nine in 10 viewers believe picture quality and reliability are paramount, outstripping interactive features, commentary and stream syncing by nearly 3.5 to 1, according to BT’s survey, with a preference for good picture quality and reliability over reduced latency.

MAUD was developed by the Content Delivery Research team at BT’s Research Labs, based at Adastral Park in Suffolk.  The goal was to create a solution for efficient live streaming that was sensitive to the needs of the various organisations in the content delivery path, BT said. MAUD was presented to broadcasters at IBC 2023 in Amsterdam earlier this year.

Minimal integration requirements

Multicast ABR solutions already exist – notably from technology provider Broadpeak, which has delivered solutions for streamer DAZN and telecom operator Bouygues Telecom among others.

However, BT says that its solution is different because it minimises integration requirements and is therefore highly suited to OTT providers.

The company says that the big advantage its technology proivides is the removal of the need for the content player applications to be modified.

Another advantage, it says, is that all delivery and performance reporting that a content owner or distributor needs from their CDN provider is maintained and also therefore seamless. BT says that previous deployments of this type of capability have involved a lot of work to adapt player applications.

Howard Watson, Chief Security and Networks Officer at BT Group said: “MAUD is a major breakthrough in how we deliver content over the internet. Developed in our world leading labs at Adastral Park in Suffolk, MAUD could be a key solution to how we manage ever increasing traffic loads. By combining individual streams, MAUD delivers a more reliable, consistent picture, no matter whether customers are watching over Wi-Fi, fibre or mobile networks.”

Paolo Pescatore, Founder at PP Foresight, said: “Whether it’s the Euros or Eurovision, gaming over Twitch or gigs from Glastonbury, data shows that audiences still value the live experience even in the on-demand era. With live sports and events driving peak network demand to new heights, it’s great to see innovation ensuring that high-quality, premium live content can reach the widest possible audiences across multiple types of device, and to be possible in an increasingly environmentally sustainable manner.”

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