The roundtable discussion panel on emerging standards in IPTV included:
- Dan O’Callaghan, Chair of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions IPTV Interoperability Forum, (ATIS IIF)
- Virginia Williams, Director of Standards at Consumer Electronics Association, (CEA)
- Scott Smyers, President and Chairman of the Digital Living Network Alliance, (DLNA)
- Robin Mersh, Chief Operating Office of the DSL Forum
- Ghaseem Koleyni, Chairman of the International Telecommunications Union Focus Group IPTV, (ITU-T)
Chaired by Graham Finnie, chief analyst with Heavy Reading, the panel provided an overview of the various bodies and work that is underway to equip the telecom and consumer electronic industries with the tools they need to optimize the potential of IPTV. All panelists uniformly recognized the need for a set of standards that Telcos and the consumer electronics (CE) industry can refer to.
Due to the sheer number of organizations developing standards, work at times has been duplicated or overlooked, and all agreed that the closer liaison among the organizations being forged today will benefit the industry. Key issues such as Quality of Experience (QoE), remote management and gaps identified by various industry bodies were discussed during the session.
“There are a plethora of Telco bodies and CE organizations and whilst we all try and coordinate our work, each organisation is obviously focused on its own technology and region,” commented Ghaseem Koleyni, Chairman of the ITU-T Focus Group. “One thing we should guard against is reinventing the wheel and duplicating our efforts. We also need to know what areas are being neglected.”
One common area identified as important is facilitating an open architecture, particularly in the CE industry.
Virginia Williams, director of standards at the CEA, explained: “The CE community is comprized of a variety of CPE (customer premises equipment) devices that relate to IPTV, all of which have different needs. One thing is clear however – consumers are now expecting their CE devices to interconnect seamlessly and to be interoperable. To achieve this, an open platform is required. Working more closely with other industry bodies and sharing knowledge and experience will hopefully help the right standards to be developed, for the right industry.”
As well as developing and expanding these current standards, identifying opportunities where gaps have been left is just as important. Many organizations, including the DSL Forum, CEA, ATIS, ITU and the DLNA, have conducted their own gap analysis to ascertain where these areas are and to determine which issues and opportunities are within each organization’s scope of work. One issue not being overlooked is ensuring standards keep up with the pace of industry developments.
Scott Smyers, president and chairman of DLNA, explains: “With the release of DLNA’s guidelines we have established an interoperability platform. The challenge now is to keep it relevant by tracking the evolution of technology and by responsibly incorporating new things over time as technology evolves. DLNA is now looking at such technologies as new, more advanced QoS mechanisms and new technologies that protect commercial content, among others. DLNA will be expanding our guidelines to keep pace with the advance of technology.”
This extended reach of Telcos also led to a discussion on the importance of defining an end-to-end solution or suite of standards that supports the entire IPTV eco-system.
Dan O’Callaghan, chair of the ATIS IPTV Interoperability Forum, said:
“An ‘end to end’ approach to IPTV standards is needed and that is why the ATIS IPTV Interoperability Forum has established an overall reference architecture for IPTV as well as requirements and specifications for Quality of Experience; Digital Rights Management; Metadata; and Quality of Service metrics, and is also addressing interoperability standards and testing requirements for components.
“The forum contributes heavily to the ITU-T IPTV Focus Group and collaborates closely with other global standards bodies. Such open collaboration is critical towards ensuring that redundant efforts are minimized and that the industry’s available resources for IPTV standards development are used wisely,” added Mr. O’Callaghan.
The round table discussion provided the various industry bodies with an invaluable platform on which to begin discussions about the future of IPTV standards. Robin Mersh, chief operating officer at the DSL Forum, concluded the session: “The DSL Forum is keen to build on the good work we have done and are continuing to do on remote CPE management, QoE, policy control and device interoperability for IPTV services.
“As an industry we are usually much better at talking about what we have done, rather than what we have in the pipeline and what we have to do next. Our talks need to center on the future, in order to keep our work aligned and our resources focused on common critical issues,” continued Robin. “Forging strong alliances, sharing best practices, collaborating on specifications, as well as being more public about current and future activities, will help industry bodies to work closer together, which is what the industry needs and expects.”