DVB-GEM at IBC 2011

At this year’s IBC conference DVB presented a demonstration of a hybrid broadcast/broadband DVB-GEM scenario on the DVB booth.  

The set-top box provided by Alticast connects to a DVB-T terrestrial antenna and a DSL line and runs Alticast’s GEM+Java Middleware (Alticast OTTV Service Solution). It combines terrestrial broadcast reception (DVB-T) with VoD streaming from the servers of the Italian Broadcaster Mediaset over the internet. The hybrid platform implements both the recent Over-The-Top (OTT) profile and the broadcast profile of the GEM 1.3 specification. These boxes are already deployed in the DGTVi broadcast network in Italy, where they complement the linear broadcast TV offering of the broadcaster with the VoD portal that offers the latest movies and TV series. Content is streamed over the internet in high definition, which is made possible through the adaptive streaming capabilities of the GEM OTT profile.   Why Adaptive Streaming?   The internet is not able to guarantee a constant bandwidth to video streaming.  Bandwidth variations are common on the internet and specific measures are necessary to ensure uninterrupted viewing, which the consumer expects from a premium service. Today’s non-adaptive streaming solutions do not support HD streaming, as the required constant bandwidth is not available on a typical internet connection. Adaptive streaming was designed to handle bandwidth variations. During playback the STB continuously measures the available stream bandwidth and switches to a different stream with a lower bandwidth requirement (bitrate) in instances where the available bandwidth is not sufficient for uninterrupted streaming. When sufficient bandwidth becomes available again the box dynamically switches back to the stream with the higher bitrate.    The IBC demo scenario   The demo showed a commercial hybrid service using the most recent GEM 1.3 standard. It combines the reception of a local DVB-T stream with live OTT streaming over the internet from Mediaset’s VoD servers in Italy. While watching a broadcast program, the viewer can press a VoD button (similar to the ‘Red button’ in other environments). This launches the VoD portal application, which shows different available categories (movies, TV shows, sports, 7 day catch-up, etc.). The viewer can flip through the covers of the various titles and search for their favorite title. The graphics are smooth and fast with nice fading and transition effects, all based on standard GEM APIs. After selection of a title, the viewer can decide whether they want to watch in SD or HD and the program begins. 

While watching the viewer can pause, skip forward or backwards or stop the viewing to continue at a later time at the exact point in time where they left off.      GEM fundamentals   The hybrid broadcast/broadband GEM box is based on the widely used Java ME platform and offers the highest flexibility for broadcaster applications by using the Java runtime environment.   GEM is the common basis for Blu-ray, tru2way (OCAP), MHP, ARIB B.23, GEM-IPTV and the PAE of the Open IPTV forum.    Conclusion   The hybrid broadcast + OTT GEM presentation received a lot of interest at IBC 2011 and more than 500 GEM fact-sheets and 300 demo descriptions were taken by visitors during the exhibition.    Many people watched the demonstrations and were very interested in a standardized and deployed hybrid broadcast/OTT solution. If you weren’t able to get a GEM fact sheet at IBC, you can also download it here. More Information   • Latest GEM 1.3 specification, JavaDocs and more on www.mhp.org   • The main resource about GEM and MHP: www.mhp.org    • Developing for GEM    • GEM deployment figures   • OCAP / tru2way   • Blu-ray Disc   • Java ME general info