NTT Data provides encoding solution to Sky Italia

Italian company NTT DATA has developed a solution, NRT Encoding, for Sky Italy that by applying innovative processes to the compression of linear channels broadcast via satellite can reduce bandwidth consumption by up to 40% whilst retaining the same quality.

Since bandwidth consumption is fundamental to the overall cost of a channel, it is clear that such a solution is potentially able to bring major savings for a broadcaster which has nearly two hundred satellite channels, such as Sky Italy.

NTT DATA provides professional value, from consulting to systems development to outsourcing, combining global approach and local attention with a long-term commitment to its customers. Sky Italy, for its part, is an Italian pay TV operator 100% controlled by News Corporation.

Riccardo Ferrari, senior manager, NTT DATA in Italy says: “The debut of NRT Encoding – with the first channel on the Sky platform transmitted thanks to new technology – was achieved by June and by December 2013, the solution will be extended to other channels.

“We have been partners of Sky Italy for several years and, just based on the experience made in the development of VoD encoding used to offer Sky On Demand on all screens (PCs, smartphones, tablets and TV), came the idea of exploiting the  latest encoding techniques to process an offline linear signal.”

The basic idea is very simple: in fact, NTT Data had in the past developed and provided to Sky Video On Demand a system of encoding/transcoding offline input files supplied on different formats, generating an encoded version in various forms for various devices.

The system core is the same, based on AVC H264, with two different codes that share a large part of the initial encoding process, then depending on the device that requests them there are slight differences in the end-result.

This product encoding on-demand for tits services has proved extremely effective for Sky, and after selecting it in the face of competition from some other major names, Sky asked NTT Data to develop a different coding system that could also be used in linear systems.

Note that the file transmission for non-linear VOD has a physical beginning and an end well-defined, it is captured in full batch mode, and processed offline. The new encoding solution, meanwhile, us able to handle a continuous channel entry in linear mode and create an encoded version in output.

The linear flow input is segmented into small segments, each encoded in single mode, while a final component of the software makes a ‘merge’ of these segments in the correct way, then manages the output signal.

The process causes an important delay in the process of linear encoding from the moment the incoming stream arrives to that in when it is streamed in output. This delay is configurable, however, and preset by the broadcaster so they can establish a near real time of 5 to 10 minutes, or as required, and so everything is manageable in a concrete way by the playout systems.

The basis of this system of linear encoding by NTT Data uses very advanced techniques for encoding in H264, which also integrates open source libraries mixed with advanced techniques of adaptive encoding, rather than psycho-visual techniques.

The ‘core’ of the system of encoding works in terms of multi-step process even with very small segments. In fact, with a first passage are identified the complexity of the file and a number of useful features to better describe it, while the second coding operates on the basis of the data that the first passage has provided. The result is that you can manage a trade-off between the quality and the size of the stream. The above-mentioned basic segment is a configurable value; nell’NRT for SKY has been set to 10/15 seconds so at the end of the process, the transmission of a full HD Sky channel is accompanied by a bandwidth saving of as much as 40%.

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