Artel's Rafael Fonseca, Vice President Product Management explores the advantages and challenges of and opportunities in migrating to IP with Digital Studio India. Excerpts and other insights provided for the article, Advantage IP, are provided below:  

DSI: What are some benefits that IP brings in terms of innovation to programme creators, broadcasters viewers? 
RF: IP provides the opportunity to create new workflows not possible before due to the technology’s ability to address and route streams. Because of its packetized nature, it allows for editing and post processing, presenting opportunities to enhanced the viewers experience. IP also opens up possibilities for software and platforms which were not traditionally found in broadcast, for example, switching and routing, asset management, transcoding for viewing in different mobile devices, editing, and search engines.

DSI: What are some challenges involved in building a broadcast-ready network?
RF: Broadcasters will need to harness the flexibility of IP networking to support the time sensitive services found in their network. Latency, quality of service, and high availability must be maintained. Shifting to IP turns the network into an addressable entity very much like the public internet with the potential to be vulnerable to distributed denial of service attacks (DDOS). Broadcasters will need to create “walled gardens” and implement safeguards to protect from these and from other rogue entities.

DSI: Do you think that the advantage outweighs the challenges, or is it the other way around? Please give elaborate reasons your reply.
RF: I believe the advantage outweighs the challenges. From an infrastructure perspective IP would allow broadcasters to select infrastructure that is not purposely built, thus reducing cost and leveraging new developments that come from the larger network community at large. From service and quality assurance, IP unleashes visibility and controllability of the services and the network supporting it. IP also allows for applications normally found outside the industry to be leveraged within the industry such as, asset management, intelligent search engines, and editing.

DSI: Many vendors have IP-based products, but broadcasting companies and production houses have said that these are not inter-operable. How far has the interoperability issue been resolved?
RF: Great strides have been made in interoperability but still there is room for interpretation of the standards by vendors. The industry has demonstrated interoperability a various industry forums like NAB and IBC among others, and recognizes that a mechanism to achieve interoperability compliance needs to be put in place.

DSI: How can broadcasting companies and production houses make a successful transition to a full-IP network? What are some critical elements for them to keep in mind?
RF: Transitioning to IP will present to Broadcasters a series of challenges and opportunities in three areas: networking, network management, and service assurance/availability.
In general, Broadcasters would need to develop a migration plan which do not interfere with their ability to continue to offer service and run their business. This implies deciding which parts of the network get transitioned first versus which ones can support the business during this transition. The key is to minimize technology “islands” that might hinder service availability and assurance.
A general challenge of this transition is the need to train personnel on the relevant aspects of IP technology. In other similar transitions, organizations have had to acquire expertise by means of bringing personnel from other industries with the expertise in IP. In many cases they had IP expertise but not relevant industry expertise, e.g. broadcasting, thus having to train the IP experts on the new industry they were migrating to. 

From a networking perspective, Broadcasters will need to harness the flexibility of IP networking to support the time sensitive services found in their network. Latency, quality of service, and high availability must be maintained. Transitioning to IP implies that the elements in the network are addressable entities with monitoring, control, and reporting capabilities that could be executed remotely and from a central location. This means that the investment is not only on networking equipment but on a robust management network which will become the enabler for the efficiencies to come in the IP domain. Shifting to IP turns the network into an addressable entity very much like the public internet with the potential to be vulnerable to distributed denial of service attacks (DDOS). Broadcasters will need to create “walled gardens” and implement safeguards to protect from these and from other rogue entities. In summary, with great opportunity comes great responsibility. Broadcasters can advance their industry and benefit from a technology which has proven to be an enabler to new services in other industries. Why not theirs?

DSI: Experts say that building a full-IP broadcasting infrastructure is more about having the right frame of mind than the right technology framework. Do you agree with this?
RF: I agree. I also believe that it is a cultural shift and a well thought out architecture that considers the requirements needed in support of the broadcast services is fundamental to success.

DSI: Many companies believe that shifting to all-IP will give them cost and manpower efficiencies. Do you think that this is correct and right thinking?
RF: Shifting to IP leverages economies of scale, and provides greater efficiencies due to the controllability and observability that this technology offers.