IBC 2009: Best In Show.

With IBC behind us for another year Digital Broadcast looks at some of the key new services and products on show, hears what the exhibitors have to say about the show and congratulates one Middle East IBC innovation award winner.

Newtec’s IBC experience was dominated by the success of its Multimedia Exchange Network over Satellite (MENOS) project at the IBC Innovation Awards. The MENOS service, developed by the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), Arabsat and Newtec, was the judge’s choice for the content delivery award.

The collaborative network was used to deliver the Beijing Olympics to ASBU members. The ASBU has the broadcast rights to the Olympics until 2016 and is under increasing pressure from year to year to provide ever more complex broadcast services.
The ASBU is now looking to expand the geographic range of MENOS and is looking to offer it to non-members in the near future.

The demands placed upon ASBU member broadcasters have increased significantly since the organisation gained the rights to the competition in 1976. In addition to the rising expectations of viewers, the ASBU must also ensure that audiences are exposed to as much coverage as possible.
These requirements for the 2008 Olympics include live feeds of the major sports at the Games as well as two daily highlights packages with Arabic and English commentary.

The Beijing Olympics was the first outing for MENOS. The ASBU, Arabsat and Newtec had only six months to ship, install and put into operation the entire MENOS system before the start of the Games itself.

Giving MENOS its debut at such a high-profile broadcast event presented a number of large-scale technical challenges for the ASBU, not least of all getting to grips with the IP and DVB-S2 based system. It was also necessary to archive hundreds of hours of content while providing store and forward and backup services to all of the the ASBU’s member broadcasters.

Arabsat also supported a dual-satellite-hop transmission link with Intelsat enabling those broadcasters without direct satellite coverage over China to gain access to the system.
In Beijing, the ASBU transmitted Olympic content to viewers in the Arab region using the Intelsat and Arabsat capacity and for the very first time, transmitted over IP and DVB-S2.

Based at the Beijing International Broadcast Centre, ASBU exchanged an average of 55 hours of programming during each day of the Games, spread over 11 satellite channels and two MENOS channels, which were continuously archived and redistributed using the MENOS system.
The future of the MENOS system as predicted by Newtec, appears to be tied to the future of broadcasting in the Middle East as a whole; the pursuit of an “all IP” approach, the switch to MPEG-4 and the transition to HD.

Eutelsat demonstrated its 3D transmission capabilities at IBC and revealed the applications it will initially make the technology available for.
Together with the OpenSky platform, Eutelsat broadcast a Basketball match in 3D on its stand. The company expects one popular application of the technology to be the transmission of live events such as high profile concerts and sporting events into cinemas.

The system uses either a 10Mb/s or 12Mb/s to deliver simultaneous 1080i HD images which are then integrated into one 3D compliant image by any TV with a 3D decoder. The basketball game shown on the company’s stand demands higher bandwidth due to the complexity of the imagery and the amount of motion involved. Other content can be reproduced perfectly adequately at lower bandwidths according to Walter Munarini, managing director of Eutelsat subsidiary, OpenSky.
“There are no standards at the moment but it is international best practice to use two 1080i feeds.

Anything less than this can lead to an unpleasant experience when converted to 3D,” explained Munarini.
In addition to providing content to cinemas for live events, Eutelsat also expects to see a business develop around 3D VOD services.