Advanced Television

Industry majors back MPEG-DASH

February 22, 2012

By Colin Mann

A diverse group of technology leaders have formed the DASH Promoters Group, a new organisation dedicated to driving the broad adoption of MPEG’s DASH (dynamic adaptive streaming over HTTP) standard, which was ratified in November 2011.

DASH is designed to address the dramatic growth of Internet video by defining a universal delivery format, which provides end users with the best possible video experience and dynamically adapts to changing network conditions as video streams to their devices. It incorporates all of the best elements of proprietary adaptive streaming solutions designed to solve the classic issues users see when they stream video: intermittent stalls, poor video quality under changing network conditions, and significant video start-up lag.

The membership of the DASH Promoters Group represents a significant cross section of major players across the multimedia and video delivery value chain. Microsoft, Netflix and Qualcomm are the founding members. Other companies rounding out the membership at the time of this announcement include: Adobe, AEG Digital Media, Akamai, BuyDRM, Digital Rapids, Digital TV Labs, Dolby, EBU-UER, Elemental, Envivio, Ericsson, Harmonic, Intertrust, NDS, Packet Ship, Path1, RGB Networks, Samsung, Thomson, University of Klagenfurt and ZiXi. With the formation of the Promoters Group and significant interest from a variety of companies, commercial DASH solutions are expected this year and the current members expect their ranks to swell.

As part of their strategy to accelerate DASH adoption, the Promoters Group will be demonstrating DASH streaming video at Mobile World Congress 2012. The demo will showcase technology from several Promoters Group members and feature a live video stream encoded for DASH ISO-Base Live Profile by Harmonic, which will be ingested to Akamai’s Content Delivery Network and delivered to a Snapdragon processor-based mobile development platform from Qualcomm for playback.

“Demonstrating the live ingest of DASH content and the dynamic synthesis of DASH manifests and segments is the first step toward DASH leveraging the benefits of capacity, efficiency and security brought by the Akamai Intelligent Platform,” said Will Law, principal architect, Media Division, Akamai. “Public interoperability demonstrations among encoders, media delivery systems and playback clients inspire market confidence for this new format. DASH brings the promise of convergence in media delivery, as well as improvements in encoding and distribution efficiency, rights management and the overall consumer viewing experience,” he suggested.

“Harmonic is very committed to the DASH technology,” said Thierry Fautier, senior director of convergence solutions at Harmonic. “We believe DASH is the only way to effectively scale video over the Internet,” he stated.

“The formation of this organisation and the demonstration at Mobile World Congress are important milestones,” said Rob Chandhok, senior vice president of software strategy for Qualcomm and president of Qualcomm Internet Services, who said the fact that so many important companies were joining together to drive the standard into broad commercial adoption was “particularly gratifying”.

In addition to promoting broad adoption of DASH, the Promoters Group will focus on aligning ongoing DASH standards development, promoting the use of common profiles across industry organisations, and facilitating interoperability tests and plug-fests to demonstrate the usability and completeness of the DASH standard.

The DASH Promoters Group is also working toward recommended deployment configurations for DASH, informally called DASH-264. This would enable a minimum set of DASH requirements for the industry and help enable further commercialisation of mobile devices that support it.

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