September 2017

The announcement at IBC by SMPTE that the IP standards ST-2110 parts 10, 20 and 30 are now formally approved is good news, says dB Broadcast, the UK’s leading broadcast systems integrator.

“For some time, dB has been working to select and implement broadcast solutions based on IP and open technology, and actively works with vendors and standards bodies alike to develop and steer vendor developments to be aligned with open standards”, says Tom Swan, Sales and Marketing Director. “There is still a little way to go on approval of ST-2110-40 and -21 standards, but these are expected to be concluded within the near future.”

At IBC, the major manufacturers were demonstrating their current understanding of the ST-2110 specification in equipment. There is likely to be some refining and hardening of implementation post IBC now that standards are ratified, and before production versions are available, but this is unlikely to have a negative impact on projects starting in the next few months. However, carriage of essence via IP streams is not the end of the story – network discovery and registration, connection management and (in-band) network control are all crucial to enable safe and secure operation. To that end, it was encouraging to see a significant increase in the list of participating manufacturers within the IP Showcase at IBC. Video, audio and control system vendors were working in close co-operation to demonstrate commitment to IS-04, IS-05 and beyond. The increase in the number of suppliers and wider technology base shows how much the industry has moved on in the space of 12 months.

Swan points out: “dB Broadcast is currently delivering one of the largest IP projects in Europe, and is at the forefront of the industry transition to the use of IP in live, uncompressed video and audio systems. Several other large systems have already been delivered, based on current or precursor standards such as ASPEN, Dante and SMPTE 2022-6.” The company has a director level commitment to deliver customer projects and staff development around IP platforms.

The importance of industry bodies is recognised, and dB sees them as pivotal in the realisation of IP as a practical platform. The company is committed to developing and training staff, and to date the whole of dB’s engineering team have completed one or more of the IABM Broadcast Networking training courses. dB has a very close relationship with the IABM: its Engineering Director and senior engineers worked with the IABM to develop the syllabus that forms the Advanced Networks for Broadcast Engineers course, and participated in its first delivery.

A proactive approach is taken to working with vendors in product development, to ensure that their products are fit for purpose in IP systems, and that interoperability is proven. From previous experience of taking responsibility for the integration of IP products, the use of a dB ‘test lab’ has proved invaluable in the development and ratification of proposed solutions using the selected equipment. This also allows pre-production testing of software/firmware releases to assess their interaction with the overall solution.

At IBC 2017, dB Broadcast was presenting its After Sales Support capabilities that provide technical support and project enhancements for the lifetime of a system. dB offers standard SLAs and customised support packages to meet customers’ specific needs, and to maintain the smooth running of their system. These include support services that may be needed during training, go-live and on an ongoing basis. In essence, the customer chooses the level of support applicable to their needs and budget. dB Broadcast uses JIRA to centrally log and manage all customer support requirements. All communication methods by email, phone call or via the online portal, result in a new request being opened. Everything is captured and tracked in one system. Automated workflows, triggers and dashboards are utilised to drive performance and to ensure that SLAs are met.

The IP transition is creating demand for dB Broadcast’s consultancy services as clients strive to understand this changing environment and how best to leverage the benefits. Broadcasters require advice that is independent of particular hardware and software providers, and insight into vendor roadmaps for the latest solutions. Many now engage in ‘Proof of Concept’ testing before determining their technology strategies. An understanding of media workflows and the design of efficient migration strategies adds further value for clients.

Recent examples of dB Broadcast’s consultancy services include a multi-site HD technology refresh, DPP-compliant file delivery workflows and 4K/UHD production/playout. dB has recently been engaged as consultants for the re-location of a major international broadcaster, and for a green-field media facility based upon emerging IP standards.