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Broadpeak is working with Italian telco operator TIM to optimise live sports OTT delivery with a multicast ABR (mABR) system from Broadpeak. Using mABR, TIM can deliver live third-party sports content to subscribers with an improved quality of experience (QoE).

Crescenzo Micheli, head of technology and innovation at TIM, said that the company is using Broadpeak mABR’s ability to optimise the network performance for their streaming services, thereby assuring their customer quality of experience.

Telecom operators like TIM use ABR to make content available to second screens, but using unicast delivery – the type needed for standard streaming devices – through public Internet does not suit live content. First, since each viewer counts as a separate unicast session, this type of delivery cannot scale when extreme peaks in consumption occur, as during major events. Second, it causes latency due to the irregular nature of HTTP unicast delivery, requiring that players buffer tens of seconds of video to ensure smooth playout, also making it unsuitable for live content.

The mABR system incorporates several Broadpeak components – BkE200 transcaster server, nanoCDN agent, SmartLib library, BkM100 video delivery mediator, BkA100 analytics, and BkA200 video delivery monitoring.

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It begins with nanoCDN, an optimised multicast ABR implementation that deploys a transcaster in the headend – after the encoder and the origin packager – to encapsulate the unicast stream into multicast.

It also places a nanoCDN software agent in home gateways or STBs to convert the multicast back into unicast. Multicast ABR keeps the original ABR streaming format – such as HLS or DASH – but distributes it embedded into a multicast stream which, regardless of the number of viewers, uses the same amount of bandwidth over the operator’s infrastructure.

Furthermore, nanoCDN creates network conditions that allow players to reduce, by a large margin, the amount of buffer needed for smooth playout. Combining multicast with optimisations such CMAF chunking and HTTP chunked transfer encoding has also proved a successful means of lowering latency to traditional IPTV levels.

More About mABR Components

The transcaster mentioned above, positioned in the head-end, is the BkE200 Transcaster Server, which pulls source ABR streams, encapsulating multilayer HTTP ABR format unicast content such as HLS, HSS or MPEG-DASH, into multicast in order to optimise delivery. The nanoCDN agent, embedded in the home gateway or the set-top box, joins the multicast ABR channel and converts the received stream back to unicast, which means the video can be delivered to standard streaming devices.

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The BkM100 Video Delivery Mediator is used to configure and monitor the system and allocate multicast resources, the SmartLib library handles auto-discovery of the nanoCDN agent and the BkA100 Analytics platform analyses the audience and service consumption.

Supplier and integrator CVE was the project’s prime contractor, handling deployment and coordinating the installation and local support. “This project is significant for CVE because we’ve invested heavily in video-over-IP systems throughout the years,” said Luca Catalano, CEO at CVE. “CVE is happy to be an active part of the delivery of the mABR solution available for CDNs. This is an important milestone for the transition of the video world toward IP, and we’re proud that our IP knowledge and expertise made such a positive contribution to this deployment.”