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Conditon-ALPHA Interest in the Second W3C Web and TV Workshop

Alexander Adolf

Our Interest in the Topic of the Workshop

We think that W3C is hitting the "sweet spot" for this topic at this time. Technology advancements like HTML5 and CSS3, along with the data rates offered by ISPs in the two-digit Mbit/s range, finally have reached the tipping point for allowing to make multimedia services available on all communications infrastructures. Many video services are accessible on the Web (see DVB BlueBook A145 "Internet TV Content Delivery Study Mission Report"), TV has landed on computers (Apple TV, Hulu, Elgato EyeTV, Plex, Boxee), and the Web begins to arrive on TV sets and set-top boxes (HbbTV, Google TV and Yahoo! TV).

As a technology and strategy consultancy mainly active in the broadcast industry, we have long been waiting for this moment. Since the early 2000's we have been promoting the idea of everything on IP, and IP on everything. The time had not come then, but we believe it has arrived now. All the tools are in place now (see previous paragraph).

Our Point of View

We are convinced that both worlds, the IP world, and the broadcast world, have elements to offer to each other that are key to creating attractive multimedia services for consumers. Both, lean-back and lean-forward use cases will have a place in the connected TV world. Consumers do not care how services are delivered to their homes. Today, consumers still often have to make a choice, however. When choosing a video service offering as part of an xDSL subscription, this generally implies nothing much else than an IP service, complemented by a VoD portal. When choosing a video service offering as part of a broadband cable subscription, this generally implies nothing much else than live TV broadcast (be it analogue or digital) complemented by an IP service. A third dimension is added to this picture by pure content portals like iTunes, YouTube, etc.

We strongly believe that a technological cross-fertilisation of the broadcast and on-line sectors can help each of the sectors gain momentum. The broadcast sector can get access to rich, sophisticated, interlinked and searchable content descriptions as they are already available on the Web. The on-line sector can get access to distribution architectures that allow multi-million audiences to be dependably served at minimal cost.

We foresee two main areas of work in this convergence process:

In a first step, a metadata solution could be devised, that uniformly can describe content available in broadcast, and on-line. This will allow to hide the source of the content from the viewer, and allow hybrid terminals to manage the delivery of the content in a least-cost routing fashion (when only few people watch sth., it could be delivered via IP, otherwise via broadcast). In a second step, multimedia services can ultimately be provisioned only for IP. Everything on IP, and IP on everything. Modern broadcast bearers like e.g. DVB-S2 (satellite), DVB-T2 (terrestrial), DVB-C2 (cable) and the future DVB-NGH (next-generation handheld) are already capable of carrying IP datagrams directly. This should be taken advantage of.

What We Can Contribute

We look forward to participating in the Workshops to explore and define next steps which are appropriate for the connected TV community. We have 15+ years of track record in standardisation of digital broadcast, esp. in DVB, and also in MPEG. We would be happy to share our knowledge about the broadcast sector, and assist the community in combining the best elements of both worlds to create an exciting and convincing TV solution.

Then, standardisation is also about credibility. There have been various attempts of both, the Web community and the broadcast industry, to come up with a solution that would be accepted in both sectors. With little success, as we all know. We are convinced that participation of key players from both sectors is of paramount importance for achieving credibility and acceptance in both communities, and ultimately in making the resulting technology a success. W3C for sure is the right key player from the on-line community. In the first workshop, quite a couple of key players from the CE and broadcast industries were present. We think that further to this, involvement of the key players from the broadcast side, i.e. of DVB (with over 500 million DVB terminals deployed by DVB members) and of MPEG (The source of codec and transport technologies with a unique standing in both sectors) would be called for. Condition-ALPHA with our long history in broadcast standardisation would be happy to inform the Web community of these broadcast technologies, make suggestions on their best use on the Web, and assist in liaising with broadcast SDOs as appropriate. Mr. Alexander Adolf is chairing DVB's technical WG on metadata for over 10 years, and he would be looking forward to contributing his expertise also specifically in this area.