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PackeTV® Mobile Whitepaper

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In order to simplify and consolidate HLS installations, Visionary Solutions created the PackeTV® Mobile HLS, a single device that performs content preparation and delivery. This integrated file …

In order to simplify and consolidate HLS installations, Visionary Solutions created the PackeTV® Mobile HLS, a single device that performs content preparation and delivery. This integrated file server can support hundreds of users, eliminating the need for content delivery network (CDN) services.

Equipped with two gigabit Ethernet ports that provide a substantial amount of network bandwidth, the unit can store hundreds of hours of pre-recorded content. The entry-level system is housed in a single, compact 1RU chassis that fits perfectly into any standard 20-inch deep AV rack.

The PackeTV® Mobile HLS server supports all of the functions needed to accept H.264 video streams (real-time or file-based) and deliver HLS streams, including content
preparation, file storage, and content delivery. All of this functionality is contained within a server that has been specifically designed to optimize throughput and ease of use. PackeTV® Mobile HLS dramatically lowers operational costs compared with systems that use traditional streaming CDNs to simultaneously distribute video to multiple clients. System ownership ensures seamless, around-the-clock availability of the video streams. Each video stream can be published once and made available to all viewers with a simple set of user commands. Occasional users will find that this single, integrated system eliminates much of the configuration complexity that normally occurs when multiple subsystems from different manufacturers and service providers need to be integrated to form a complete solution. Heavy users will appreciate the flexibility that is available within the device configuration menus, which allow system operations to be customized to accommodate a wide range of bit rates, signal formats, and target devices. Also, because standard HTTP
Web-server technologies are used for content delivery, the added fees required for high throughput streaming service providers such as CDNs are eliminated, saving the content
provider money. With an on-site PackeTV® Mobile HLS, content asset management can be greatly simplified and centralized on a single server. A single video file can be created and delivered to an organization’s internal and external viewers, eliminating the need to manage multiple streams on different servers. Network bandwidth is also used more efficiently, as chunks can be downloaded quickly, and each client device only consumes as much data as the quality of their network connection allows More than half of all overall video consumption is consumed on a Wi-Fi device, according to Streaming Media, so content providers must make mobile content delivery an immediate priority.

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  • 1.             _______________________________________________________________________   PackeTV®  Mobile   Delivering  HLS  Video  to  Mobile  Devices   White  Paper  Created  by  Visionary  Solutions,  Inc.   July,  2013   http://www.vsicam.com   _______________________________________________________________________               http://www.linkedin.com/company/visionary-­‐solutions-­‐inc.             http://www.facebook.com/vsiptv               http://www.twitter.com/vsiptv             http://www.youtube.com/vsiptv    
  • 2. Delivering  HLS  Video  to  Mobile  Devices       Executive  Summary   HTTP  Live  Streaming  (HLS)  is  now  one  of  the  primary  methods  for  delivery  of  video   content  to  mobile  devices  such  as  tablets  and  smartphones.  The  HLS  format  is  supported   by  a  wide  range  of  devices,  including  those  that  use  Apple’s  iOS,  like  the  iPhone,  iPad,  and   iPad  mini,  as  well  as  a  variety  of  desktop  and  portable  devices  including  those  that  use   Android,  Java  ME,  Symbian  or  Blackberry  operating  systems.     The  market  for  delivering  streaming  video  content  to  end  users  is  growing  rapidly,   especially  for  mobile  devices.  An  increase  in  tablet  usage  of  over  60  percent  year  over  year   is  forecast  by  Gartner,  and  sales  of  the  iPad  Mini  represented  60  percent  of  overall  iOS   tablet  sales  for  Q1  2013.  Bringing  video  content  of  optimal  quality  with  seamless  speed  to   these  devices  is  an  imperative.     HLS  is  a  popular  delivery  format  because  it  is  easy  to  deploy  on  a  standard  Web  server,   and  because  it  performs  well  in  mobile  environments.  Applications  running  on  mobile   devices  can  easily  download  chunks  of  content  on-­‐demand  and  ensure  smooth,   uninterrupted  playback  of  high-­‐quality  video  content.     HLS  requires  a  sequence  of  processing  steps  for  delivery  of  live  and  pre-­‐recorded,   compressed  video  to  mobile  and  other  devices.  This  whitepaper  provides  an  overview  that   explains  the  primary  technology  required  for  streaming.  This  includes  video  capture   systems,  video  processing  hardware,  and  software  needed  to  create  HLS  streams.  This   paper  also  describes  a  unique,  single  device  integrated  file  server  that  can  support  hundreds   of  users,  eliminating  the  need  for  content  delivery  network  (CDN)  services.     A  Closer  Look  at  HTTP  Live  Streaming   One  of  the  historic  challenges  of  delivering  real-­‐time  video  to  PCs  and  other  online   devices  is  the  requirement  that  the  video  provider  and  viewer  both  use  specialized,   compatible  hardware  and  software.  On  the  provider  side,  streaming  servers  were  needed  to   format  and  rate-­‐control  each  video  stream  so  that  every  video  data  packet  was  delivered  to   the  viewer  before  the  video  player’s  buffer  became  empty,  ensuring  smooth  video  delivery.   For  the  viewer,  special  client  software  was  needed  to  manage  the  video  stream  data   delivery  process.  While  this  functionality  was  a  nuisance  for  PCs  on  hardwired  networks,  it   became  an  even  bigger  headache  for  mobile  devices  opening  on  wireless  or  3G/4G  networks.     HLS  was  developed  to  improve  performance  both  for  delivery  servers  and  end-­‐user   applications  on  client  devices.  On  the  server  side,  the  need  for  specialized  software  and   hardware  to  deliver  individual  video  packets  at  a  rate-­‐controlled  pace  was  replaced  with   proven  HTTP  file  server  technology,  which  has  been  the  standard  used  for  website  content   delivery  for  more  than  20  years.  On  the  client  side,  the  tedious  process  of  sending  stream   control  data  to  the  server  was  eliminated.  With  HLS,  each  client  can  download  video  data   files  as  needed.  
  • 3. Delivering  HLS  Video  to  Mobile  Devices         A  major  advantage  of  HTTP  streaming  is  its  ability  to  successfully  deliver  streaming   video  content  into  home  and  enterprise  environments  that  are  protected  by  firewalls.   Because  HTTP  files  comprise  the  vast  majority  of  websites  (normally  delivered  through   port  80  on  a  TCP/IP  connection),  firewalls  are  almost  universally  configured  to  permit  their   passage,  with  extremely  rare  high-­‐security  exceptions.  In  contrast,  traditional  streaming   protocols  use  other  ports  and  different  data  transfer  protocols  (such  as  RTP  and  UDP)  that   often  require  users  to  specially  configure  firewalls.     For  each  video  program,  HLS  provides  a  content  stream  that  corresponds  to  the  bit  rate   of  the  compressed  video  and  audio  signals.  Bit  rate  of  the  video/audio  stream  is  determined   by  several  factors,  including  video  image  resolution  (vertical  and  horizontal  pixel  count),   frame  rate,  and  compressed  image/sound  quality.  A  high  bit  rate  file  sequence  enables   larger  image  sizes,  faster  frame  rates,  improved  sound,  and  more  high-­‐quality  images  than   a  lower  bit  rate  file.     Every  video  stream  is  then  sliced  into  a  series  of  files  so  that  each  file  (or  chunk)  represents   a  fixed  amount  of  time  (typically  2,  5,  10  or  30  seconds)  in  the  content  sequence.  These   files  are  published  on  an  HTTP  server  in  an  ordered  sequence  that  can  be  downloaded  on   demand.     Implementing  HLS   Three  main  functions  need  to  be  accomplished  to  create  an  HLS  stream,  as  shown  in   Figure  1.  First  an  H.264  video  stream  (with  an  accompanying  audio  signal)  is  generated   from  a  camera  or  other  source.  Next,  the  HLS  video  processor  separates  the  video  and   audio  content  into  file  chunks  and  creates  a  manifest  (directory)  file  that  will  be  delivered   to  the  client  device.  Finally,  the  content  files  are  loaded  onto  a  server  that  allows  a  client   device  to  download  and  display  them,  using  a  media  viewer.  Each  of  these  steps  is   explained  in  greater  detail  in  the  following  sections.     Video  Source:  From  a  practical  standpoint,  a  well-­‐designed  HLS  server  can  accept   content  from  virtually  any  video  source.  However,  the  type  of  source  dictates  which  server   equipment  is  required  and  how  the  system  workflow  is  configured.     For  live  streams,  a  video  camera  or  video  production  switcher  output  is  typically  used.   These  are  available  in  many  varieties:  analog  or  digital,  consumer  or  professional,  SD  or   HD.  The  output  video  signal  needs  to  be  compressed  using  H.264  compression,  and  the   audio  output  using  HE-­‐AAC,  AAC-­‐LC  or  MP3  encoding.  In  Figure  1,  an  AVN441  encoder   is  depicted,  which  enables  flexibility  in  handling  analog  and  digital  video  and  audio,   including  HDMI  signals.  The  resulting  output  can  be  fed  directly  into  the  video  processor.   Pre-­‐recorded  video,  including  videotapes,  discs,  and  solid-­‐state  memory  devices  can  also   be  converted  to  HLS  streams.  By  connecting  the  output  of  the  video  playback  device  to  an   AVN441  (or  equivalent)  encoder,  one  can  simultaneously  digitize  and  compress  the  video   content  for  optimal  mobile  delivery.    
  • 4. Delivering  HLS  Video  to  Mobile  Devices       Computer  files  containing  video  content  are  easiest  to  work  with.  When  these  files  have   been  created  using  H.264  and  are  in  .mov  or  .mp4  video  file  formats,  they  can  be  loaded   directly  into  the  content  processor  and  prepared  for  client  download.  MPEG  Transport   Stream  (TS)  files  that  contain  H.264  encoded  video  can  also  be  uploaded  directly  to  the   content  processor.  A  live  MPEG-­‐TS  can  also  be  accommodated.  When  this  type  of  stream   is  available  (from  an  IPTV  or  a  broadcast  application),  it  can  be  fed  into  the  content   processor  and  converted  into  HLS  in  real  time.  Content  that  has  been  compressed  using   MPEG-­‐2  encoders  can  be  processed,  but  these  signals  will  not  play  out  correctly  on  Apple   devices.  They  are  only  compatible  to  Android  systems  with  compatible  viewing   applications.1     Regardless  of  the  source,  all  video  content  needs  to  be  delivered  to  the  content  processor   over  an  Ethernet  connection.  In  many  cases,  this  consists  of  a  real-­‐time  stream  of  packets   from  an  encoder  or  other  device  that  are  collected  and  prepared  for  HLS  streaming   immediately  as  the  packets  arrive.  In  other  instances,  the  content  will  be  contained  in  a  data   file  that  is  transferred  using  a  protocol  like  FTP.  In  either  case,  as  soon  as  the  video  content   arrives,  it  can  be  prepared  for  HLS  streaming  to  a  client  device.     Content  Processing:  This  step  creates  the  files  and  manifest  lists  that  are  downloaded   by  the  client  devices  during  playback.  Each  of  the  compressed  H.264  video  files  or  streams   (and  associated  audio  content)  must  be  converted  into  a  series  of  files.  Each  file  is  stored   on  the  server  and  listed  in  the  manifest,  which  is  delivered  to  the  client  device  before   playback  begins.     The  most  important  task  of  the  content  preparation  system  is  slicing  the  content  streams   into  fixed-­‐size  blocks  (or  chunks)  of  the  exact  same  length.  This  process  allows  the  client   device  to  schedule  the  download  of  the  next  chunk  in  measured  time  to  ensure   uninterrupted  video  display.  By  calculating  the  time  required  to  download  each  chunk  with   the  amount  of  time  that  is  required  to  play  it,  the  client  device  appropriately  calibrates   when  to  start  the  next  piecemeal  download.     Content  Delivery:  The  server  delivers  video  streams  to  just  a  few  or  hundreds  of   mobile  client  devices  simultaneously,  taking  into  account  the  available  network  bandwidth   is  available.  Typically,  two  types  of  networks  are  used  for  mobile  devices.  Local  wireless   networks  (such  as  Wi-­‐Fi)  can  deliver  signals  to  devices  that  are  within  reach  of  the  signal,   and  are  typically  limited  to  one  or  more  buildings  located  on  an  organization’s  campus.  For   remote  users,  who  can  literally  be  located  anywhere  in  the  world,  mobile  carrier  3G/4G   LTE  networks  are  frequently  used.     Before  playback  begins,  the  client  device  must  request  the  manifest  list  from  the  server.   This  log  contains  information  about  the  files,  including  the  chunk  duration,  file  addresses   (URLs),  and  file  sizes.  Using  the  manifest,  client  devices  can  calculate  when  the  next   chunk  needs  to  be  downloaded  in  order  to  begin  playback  without  interrupting  or  delaying   the  stream.  Client  devices  then  use  standard  HTTP  file  transfer  protocols  to  download  each   chunk  of  content  as  needed  and  play  the  video  requested.                                                                                                                             1 MPEG-­‐2  content  can  also  be  transcoded  into  H.264  format  to  accommodate  Apple  devices.    
  • 5. Delivering  HLS  Video  to  Mobile  Devices           HLS  Applications   The  value  of  video  communications  is  increasing  very  quickly  and  the  need  to  distribute  video  content  to   mobile  devices  will  only  continue  to  grow.  Last  year,  mobile  video  views  jumped  300%  last  year,   according  to  the  U.S.  Digital  Benchmark  Video  Review.  HLS  is  an  ideal  technology  for  mobile  device   delivery,  because  it  is  supported  by  the  major  mobile  platforms  including  Apple  iOS  and  Android.  HLS   can  also  be  viewed  on  desktop  and  portable  devices,  including  laptops  and  tablets.     Nonprofit  and  for-­‐profit  organizations  rely  on  video   communications  as  an  effective  way  to  deliver  business-­‐related   content  to  employees.  Internal  usage  might  include  new  hire   training,  delivery  of  human  resources  communiques,  or   presentation  of  executive  speeches  or  quarterly  earnings  reports.   Such  technology  is  especially  vital  for  organizations  and   businesses  with  locations  across  the  country  or  around  the  world,   as  well  as  remote  employees.  Further,  video  can  also  be  a  very   effective  tool  for  communicating  with  customers  or  clients,   whether  it  be  for  sales  presentations,  post-­‐purchase   product/service  training,  and  compelling  outreach  to  existing  and   prospective  customers.     Government  agencies  at  the  local,  regional,  state  and  national   level  can  use  video  streaming  via  mobile  devices  to  communicate   with  constituents.  Agency  employees  can  benefit  from  the  same   applications  as  commercial  enterprises.  Government  usage  of  real   time  video  content  delivery  has  been  proven  to  improve   awareness  by  constituents,  as  well  as  first  responders,  during   emergencies  and  natural  disasters.  Video  content  also  makes  an   excellent  use  of  the  high-­‐speed  networks  that  many  government   agencies  have  deployed,  helping  to  improve  communications  with  remote  staff  members  who  use   mobile  devices  for  network  access.  Servers  that  include  a  self-­‐contained  content  distribution   functionality  can  work  behind  firewalls  and  within  secure  networks,  avoiding  the  potential  risks  involved   with  using  a  commercial  CDN  provider.     Secondary  and  university-­‐level  educational  institutions  need  to  communicate  with  a   student  audience  that  relies  nearly  exclusively  on  mobile  devices  that  can  receive  and  play   HLS  content.  By  supporting  students’  personal  devices,  which  are  moving  quickly  to  100   percent  absorption  of  smartphones  and  tablets,  these  institutions  can  increase  viewing  of   video  programming  without  incurring  the  cost  of  deploying  and  managing  set-­‐top  boxes  or   other  display  devices.     Houses  of  worship  often  wish  to  provide  live  and  pre-­‐recorded  video  streams  to  existing   and  prospective  members  of  their  congregations  who  are  unable  attend  services  in  person.   With  parishioner  access  to  mobile  devices,  it  makes  sense  to  deliver  content  in  HLS  format.   “The  need  to   distribute   video  content   to  mobile   devices  will   only  continue   to  grow”  
  • 6. Delivering  HLS  Video  to  Mobile  Devices           Alternatively,  a  device  such  as  the  Amino  H140  set-­‐top  box  can  be  installed  in  the  viewer’s   home,  connected  to  a  television  and  an  Internet  circuit,  and  used  to  play  HLS  content.     Telephone  companies  offering  IPTV  services  and  regional  cable  providers  can  increase   the  appeal  of  their  subscription  packages  by  offering  HLS  streaming  services  to  mobile   devices.  By  using  a  server  with  a  built-­‐in  CDN  function,  only  internal  network  resources   are  required,  lowering  the  operational  cost  of  delivering  content  to  mobile  users.       Deploying  HLS  with  PackeTV®    Mobile   In  order  to  simplify  and  consolidate  HLS  installations,  Visionary  Solutions  created  the   PackeTV®    Mobile  HLS,  a  single  device  that  performs  content  preparation  and  delivery.   This  integrated  file  server  can  support  hundreds  of  users,  eliminating  the  need  for  content   delivery  network  (CDN)  services.     Equipped  with  two  gigabit  Ethernet  ports  that  provide  a  substantial  amount  of  network   bandwidth,  the  unit  can  store  hundreds  of  hours  of  pre-­‐recorded  content.  The  entry-­‐level   system  is  housed  in  a  single,  compact  1RU  chassis  that  fits  perfectly  into  any  standard  20-­‐   inch  deep  AV  rack.     The  PackeTV®    Mobile  HLS  server  supports  all  of  the  functions  needed  to  accept  H.264   video  streams  (real-­‐time  or  file-­‐based)  and  deliver  HLS  streams,  including  content   preparation,  file  storage,  and  content  delivery.  All  of  this  functionality  is  contained  within  a   server  that  has  been  specifically  designed  to  optimize  throughput  and  ease  of  use.   PackeTV®    Mobile  HLS  dramatically  lowers  operational  costs  compared  with  systems   that  use  traditional  streaming  CDNs  to  simultaneously  distribute  video  to  multiple  clients.   System  ownership  ensures  seamless,  around-­‐the-­‐clock  availability  of  the  video  streams.   Each  video  stream  can  be  published  once  and  made  available  to  all  viewers  with  a  simple   set  of  user  commands.     Occasional  users  will  find  that  this  single,  integrated  system  eliminates  much  of  the   configuration  complexity  that  normally  occurs  when  multiple  subsystems  from  different   manufacturers  and  service  providers  need  to  be  integrated  to  form  a  complete  solution.   Heavy  users  will  appreciate  the  flexibility  that  is  available  within  the  device   configuration  menus,  which  allow  system  operations  to  be  customized  to  accommodate  a   wide  range  of  bit  rates,  signal  formats,  and  target  devices.  Also,  because  standard  HTTP   Web-­‐server  technologies  are  used  for  content  delivery,  the  added  fees  required  for  high     throughput  streaming  service  providers  such  as  CDNs  are  eliminated,  saving  the  content   provider  money.     With  an  on-­‐site  PackeTV®    Mobile  HLS,  content  asset  management  can  be  greatly   simplified  and  centralized  on  a  single  server.  A  single  video  file  can  be  created  and   delivered  to  an  organization’s  internal  and  external  viewers,  eliminating  the  need  to  
  • 7. Delivering  HLS  Video  to  Mobile  Devices       manage  multiple  streams  on  different  servers.  Network  bandwidth  is  also  used  more   efficiently,  as  chunks  can  be  downloaded  quickly,  and  each  client  device  only  consumes  as   much  data  as  the  quality  of  their  network  connection  allows.  More  than  half  of  all  overall   video  consumption  is  consumed  on  a  Wi-­‐Fi  device,  according  to  Streaming  Media,  so   content  providers  must  make  mobile  content  delivery  an  immediate  priority.       Conclusion     Video  delivery  to  mobile  devices  is  rapidly  expanding  both  in  terms  of  its  scope  and   penetration.  With  the  installed  base  of  video-­‐capable  devices  growing  explosively  (tripling   in  2010,  and  more  than  doubling  again  in  2011),  consumers  expect  and  demand  video   content  on  their  portable  devices.  This  is  good  news  for  businesses  and  organizations.   Video  is  a  powerful  way  to  communicate  with  employees  and  customers,  and  can  help   optimize  all  types  of  communication.  Marketing  and  sales  outreach,  efficient  and  broad-­‐based   communication,  and  comprehensive  education  functions  can  all  be  achieved  with  this   technology  and  the  availability  of  increasingly  affordable,  easy-­‐to-­‐use  delivery  systems.   HLS  is  a  leading  technology  for  delivering  video  to  mobile  devices,  based  on  its  wide   range  of  target  devices,  flexibility,  and  compatibility  with  virtually  any  type  of  private  or   public  network.  It  can  support  applications  for  many  types  of  organizations,  including   corporate,  nonprofit,  government,  faith-­‐based  and  educational.  Using  HLS,  organizations   can  cost-­‐effectively  deliver  seamless  video  content  to  viewers  in  real  time  anywhere  around   the  globe.     PackeTV®    Mobile  HLS  is  the  ideal  platform  for  any  organization  that  is  launching  HLS   video  services.  The  self-­‐contained  system  can  take  compressed  video  signals  from  live  and   pre-­‐recorded  sources  and  convert  them  into  the  content  and  manifest  files  that  are   downloaded  by  mobile  devices  that  play  video  to  users.  The  built-­‐in  server  can  deliver   simultaneous  streams  to  tens  or  hundreds  of  devices  without  the  need  for  expensive  service   contracts  with  external  CDN  providers.  Easy  to  install,  PackeTV®    Mobile  HLS   accommodates  both  experts  and  novices  in  the  world  of  video  streaming.     Visionary  Solutions,  Inc.  has  established  a  strong  record  over  the  past  decade  for   delivering  reliable,  high-­‐performance  IPTV  encoding  solutions  for  professional   applications.  Every  Visionary  Solutions  product  is  easy  to  configure  and  install,  and  fully   supported  by  a  responsive  and  experienced  customer  service  team.  For  more  information   about  any  Visionary  Solutions  product,  or  to  schedule  a  live  demonstration,  please  contact   our  sales  department  at  1+  805-­‐845-­‐8900,  email  us  at  sales@vsicam.com,  or  visit  our   website  www.vsicam.com  to  locate  a  nearby  dealer.