IPTV for Schools - 21st Century Solutions


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Many educational institutions need to upgrade the systems used to deliver video content to classrooms, either to replace aging technologies or to support a greater range of content and viewing devices. IPTV networks, particularly those based on newly available technologies, offer significant video quality improvements and provide a unified user interface for live, pre-recorded, on-demand, and Internet-sourced video. IPTV systems can be installed incrementally as an overlay to an existing network, or can be deployed as complete replacements of an existing system. Recent cost reductions, particularly in key software and server components, have now made IPTV technology affordable for virtually any school system.

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IPTV for Schools - 21st Century Solutions

  1. 1.                         _______________________________________________________________________     IPTV  for  Schools   21st  Century  Solutions   White  Paper  Created  by  Visionary  Solutions,  Inc.   August,  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. 2. IPTV  for  Schools  –  21st  Century  Solutions           Executive  Summary   Many  educational  institutions  need  to  upgrade  the  systems  used  to  deliver  video  content  to   classrooms,  either  to  replace  aging  technologies  or  to  support  a  greater  range  of  content  and  viewing   devices.  IPTV  networks,  particularly  those  based  on  newly  available  technologies,  offer  significant  video   quality  improvements  and  provide  a  unified  user  interface  for  live,  pre-­‐recorded,  on-­‐demand,  and   Internet-­‐sourced  video.  IPTV  systems  can  be  installed  incrementally  as  an  overlay  to  an  existing   network,  or  can  be  deployed  as  complete  replacements  of  an  existing  system.  Recent  cost  reductions,   particularly  in  key  software  and  server  components,  have  now  made  IPTV  technology  affordable  for   virtually  any  school  system.       Introduction   Today’s  students  live  in  a  multimedia  world.  Innovative  teachers   use  video  technology  in  the  classroom  to  enhance  course  material   and  reach  pupils  who  may  have  different  learning  styles.  The   challenge  for  many  school  systems  is  coming  up  with  a  technology   platform  that  is  flexible,  scalable  and  affordable  enough  to  delivery   top-­‐quality  video  content  to  students  of  all  ages.  Many  forward-­‐ looking  educators  have  recognized  the  limitations  of  traditional   video  delivery  systems  based  on  dedicated  coaxial  cable  networks  or   videotape/DVD  projectors.  These  schools  are  moving  rapidly  to   deploy  Internet  Protocol  Television  (IPTV)  throughout  their  facilities.       Modern  IPTV  systems  are  a  far  cry  from  the  postage-­‐stamp-­‐ sized,  low-­‐frame-­‐rate  Internet  video  offerings  of  just  a  few  years  ago.  Using  technology  that  is  built  to   take  advantage  of  private  networks,  IPTV  can  deliver  full-­‐motion,  HD  video  content  at  a  quality  level  that   meets  or  exceeds  that  of  broadcast,  satellite,  Blu-­‐ray  and  cable-­‐TV  systems.    IPTV  technology  has  been   chosen  by  AT&T  for  their  fast-­‐growing  U-­‐verse®  platform  that  competes  directly  with  cable  and  satellite   TV  in  serving  hundreds  of  channels  of  HD  content  to  consumers  across  the  country.    Comparable,   affordable  technology  is  available  for  the  school  district  or  site  level  ecosystem.     IPTV  systems  can  deliver  video  directly  to  devices  that  are  already  in  most  schools,  including   desktop/laptop  PCs,  tablets,  smartphones,  and  specialized  devices  such  as  digital  signage.  This  makes   adopting  IPTV  technology  less  expensive  and  more  attractive,  as  pieces  of  your  network  are  already  in   place.  In  fact,  it  is  not  uncommon  for  new  IPTV  deployments  to  be  done  in  stages,  allowing  applications   to  be  moved  onto  new  systems  as  they  become  ready  for  deployment.         “Innovative                           teachers  use   video  technology   in  the  classroom   to  enhance   course  material.”  
  3. 3. IPTV  for  Schools  –  21st  Century  Solutions         IPTV  System  Architecture   The  job  of  an  IPTV  System  is  to  efficiently  transport  video  signals  from  a  source  to  a  display.   Between  these  two  endpoints,  there  must  be  an  IP  network,  as  well  as  video/audio  encoders  to  convert   content  into  streams.  Systems  also  include  a  variety  of  optional  equipment  such  as  servers  to  handle   tasks  such  as  playing  scheduled  video  programs,  acting  as  video  on  demand  (VoD)  suppliers,  controlling   viewer  access,  and  publishing  channel  guides.  To  get  a  better  understanding  of  a  typical  IPTV  System,  it   is  beneficial  to  look  at  each  of  the  major  system  components.       Sources   Video  can  originate  from  a  wide  variety  of  sources  in  an  IPTV  system.  Video  cameras  with  coax,   FireWire,  USB  or  HDMI  outputs  can  feed  live  signals  into  the  system,  or  they  can  record  video  onto  tape,   disk,  or  flash  memory  cards  for  later  editing  and  encoding.  Real-­‐time  video  feeds  from  satellite  TV,  over-­‐ the-­‐air  broadcasts,  cable  TV  systems  or  Internet  video  sources  can  be  encoded  in  real  time  for  use  in   schools.  Pre-­‐recorded  video  on  tapes,  discs,  flash  memory  cards,  or  computer  files  can  be  captured  and   converted  into  live  video  streams  or  loaded  on  servers  for  on-­‐demand  playback  at  the  viewer’s  request.   Video  from  other  devices  such  as  smart  phones  or  computers  with  built-­‐in  USB  cameras  can  also  be   delivered  via  IPTV.       Video  signals  may  have  to  be  converted  into  formats  that  are  compatible  with  the  protocols  used  on   the  IPTV  network.  This  process,  called  encoding  or  transcoding,  accepts  many  different  forms  of  raw   video  as  input  and  conditions  them  for  use  on  the  system.  The  most  popular  standard  today  for   encoding  IPTV  video  is  known  as  Advanced  Video  Coding  (AVC),  also  called  H.264  in  reference  to  the   international  standard  number.  This  compression  format  can  be  decoded  by  virtually  all  types  of  PCs,   smartphones,  tablets,  standalone  video  playback  devices,  and  by  any  modern  IPTV  set  top  box  (STB).   AVC  encoding  can  be  done  either  offline  or  online.  In  offline  encoding,  which  is  used  for  pre-­‐recorded   content,  a  server  runs  a  software  package  to  encode  a  captured  video  file.  On-­‐line  encoders,  such  as  the   AVN443  from  Visionary  Solutions,  can  take  the  output  from  virtually  any  video  source  and  provide  a   compressed,  packetized  AVC  stream  that  can  be  delivered  real-­‐time  over  an  IPTV  network.     Networks   With  today’s  technologies,  virtually  any  data  network  can  be  used  for  IPTV  services.  A  basic   complement  of  Ethernet  switches  and  IP  routers  can  usually  be  configured  to  provide  at  least  limited   services,  reducing  the  need  to  upgrade  major  system  components  when  launching  a  basic  IPTV  system.   As  traffic  levels  increase,  network  upgrades  may  be  required,  such  as  adding  higher  capacity  switches   and  routers  and  increasing  the  bandwidth  of  interconnections.       One  important  network  capability  is  multicasting.  This  technology  permits  one  video  source  to   deliver  real  time  streams  to  dozens  (or  thousands)  of  receivers  simultaneously.  While  this  capability  is   built  into  most  recent-­‐vintage  enterprise-­‐class  networking  equipment,  multicasting  is  often  not  enabled   in  basic  enterprise  networks.  Enabling  multicast  requires  changing  the  configuration  data  inside  the   network  routers  and  switches,  and  in  some  cases,  a  firmware  upgrade  may  be  required.  (Only  rarely  will   older  equipment  need  to  be  completely  replaced.)  Multicasting  permits  much  more  efficient  use  of   network  bandwidth,  and  greatly  reduces  the  workload  of  video  sources  such  as  encoders.  Multicasting   can  even  eliminate  the  need  to  install  servers  for  replicating  streams  being  delivered  to  multiple  viewer   devices.    
  4. 4. IPTV  for  Schools  –  21st  Century  Solutions           Servers   A  number  of  functions  are  usually  relegated  to  servers  installed  within  an  IPTV  network.  One   common  function  is  to  supply  VoD  services,  where  video  content  is  stored  inside  servers  and   transmitted  to  viewers  on  request.  A  server  is  also  typically  employed  to  provide  a  channel  guide   function,  allowing  viewers  to  see  and  select  programs  that  are  currently  playing  or  are  available  in  the   VoD  content  library.  This  server  may  also  provide  mechanisms  to  control  which  viewers  are  allowed  to   view  each  content  element,  by  means  of  device  IDs,  passwords  or  other  security  protocols.  The  software   to  provide  this  control,  called  “middleware,”  has  recently  been  made  affordable  and  easy  to  use  by  the   release  of  cloud-­‐based  products  like  PackeTV  Views™  from  Visionary  Solutions.     Servers  may  also  be  required  for  transcoding  video,  which  involves  converting  content  from  one   compression  format  to  another,  or  changing  the  bit  rate  of  the  content.  Another  use  of  servers  is  to   format  and  supply  video  signals  to  mobile  phones  and  tablets  by  way  of  HTTP  streaming.       Viewing  Devices   A  key  advantage  of  IPTV  systems  is  the  wide  range  of  devices  that  can  be  used  to  receive  and  display   video  signals.  This  flexibility  helps  to  dramatically  reduce  the  initial  deployment  costs  of  the  system,  and   avoids  the  disruption  of  converting  large  groups  of  users  over  to  new  equipment.  Most  recent-­‐vintage   desktop  and  laptop  PCs  are  capable  of  real-­‐time  playout  of  IPTV  streams,  using  a  variety  of  different   software  packages.  One  popular  package  is  the  VLC  player,  which  an  open-­‐source,  free  download  in  use   on  Windows,  Apple  and  Linux  devices.  Media  player  software  also  comes  bundled  with  every  Windows   PCs;,  and  Apple  QuickTime®  also  works  well  with  IPTV  streams.       For  standalone  displays  and  projectors,  IPTV  systems  support  a  variety  of  self-­‐contained  players  and   set  top  boxes  (STBs).  Traditional  STBs  from  vendors  like  Amino  can  support  many  different  kinds  of  IP   video  streams,  and  frequently  offer  advanced  configuration  options  that  permit  customization  for  many   different  display  applications.  Display  connections  can  also  vary  significantly,  ranging  from  composite   and  component  analog  video  through  VGA  and  DVI  interfaces  to  HDMI  ports.  Other  standalone  devices,   from  vendors  such  as  Roku,  Apple,  and  Google,  have  a  more  limited  range  of  features  and  functionality,   but  are  inexpensive  and  widely  available.       Two  different  kinds  of  wireless  networks  are  commonly  used  to  deliver  IPTV  services:  Wi-­‐Fi  or  3G/4G   LTE.  Wi-­‐Fi  based  private  IP  networks  that  are  owned  and  operated  by  the  educational  facility  provide   nearly  the  same  set  of  configuration  options  as  a  wired  network,  and  can  support  multicasting,   advanced  channel  guides  and  other  enhanced  operations.  Many  tablets,  laptops  and  other  portable   devices  can  be  setup  to  use  Wi-­‐Fi  connections.  Smart  phones  and  tablets  that  use  3G  or  4G  LTE  services   from  commercial  wireless  operators  have  a  much  more  limited  set  of  capabilities  for  private  IP  video   services,  because  they  need  to  connect  using  a  wireless  data  plan.  These  carrier-­‐based  systems  are   much  more  restricted  in  the  range  of  permitted  protocols.  In  most  circumstances,  video  delivered   through  these  networks  is  constrained  to  use  HTTP  streaming  or  similar  Internet-­‐compatible   technologies.          
  5. 5. IPTV  for  Schools  –  21st  Century  Solutions         Education  Applications   Services  can  be  delivered  over  IPTV  networks  to  support  a  broad  array  of  educational  methods  and   objectives.  Students  of  any  age,  from  preschool  to  graduate  students  and  adult  learners,  can  benefit   from  well-­‐designed  video  content.  We’ll  present  a  number  of  typical  education  applications  here,   however,  there  are  many  more  that  can  be  successfully  accomplished  with  IPTV  systems.       Live  and  Pre-­‐Recorded  Programming  –  This  form  of  video,  often  called  “linear  TV,”  offers  the  type   of  programming  provided  by  broadcasters  and  television  networks.  These  one-­‐way  services  deliver   entertainment,  educational  and  news  content  on  a  predetermined  schedule  by  way  of  a  number  of  pre-­‐ designated  channels  setup  in  an  IPTV  system.  Viewers  select  the  channel  they  want  to  see  using  some   type  of  channel  guide,  which  can  be  printed  or  delivered  electronically.  These  channels  can  be  directly   converted  from  commercial  or  public  television  broadcasts,  or  they  can   be  created  by  an  administrator  from  live  or  pre-­‐recorded  video   content.       Morning  Announcements  –  Schools  everywhere  have  been   pleasantly  surprised  by  the  increased  levels  of  students’  attention  to   announcements  provided  using  video  technology.  Whether  the  content   features  an  administrator,  other  students  or  animations,  these  short   video  broadcasts  can  measurably  increase  awareness  and  message   retention.    With  an  IPTV  system,  an  inexpensive  camera,  a  real-­‐time   video  encoder,  and  a  wired  or  wireless  network  connection,   announcements  can  originate  virtually  anywhere  on  school  property.   Multicasting  can  be  used  to  distribute  the  source  stream  to  dozens  or   even  hundreds  of  destinations  simultaneously.       Staff  Meetings  and  Training  –  IPTV  networks  can  be  used  to  reduce   the  cost  and  simplify  logistics  of  many  staff-­‐related  events.  Live  streams   can  be  created  from  almost  anywhere  with  a  simple  portable  systems   consisting  of  a  camera,  an  encoder,  and  a  network  connection.    If  two-­‐ way  (or  multi-­‐way)  communications  are  required,  multiple  encoder  sites  can  be  used.  Or,  if  only  audio   communications  are  required,  telephone  conferencing  systems  can  be  used.  Pre-­‐recorded  or  live   training  content  can  be  streamed  in  real-­‐time  to  multiple  buildings,  thereby  reducing  or  eliminating  the   need  for  staff  travel  between  facilities.       Student/Sports/Cultural  Events  –  Community,  alumni  and  parental  involvement  is  an  important  goal   for  many  educators.  One  way  to  improve  outreach  to  these  valuable  constituencies  is  to  provide   engaging  video  content,  using  both  live  and  on-­‐demand  methods.  Real-­‐time  multicast  transmission  can   be  used  within  the  school’s  private  network,  and  HTTP  streaming  or  other  formats  can  be  used  for   Internet  delivery.       Home-­‐Bound/Off-­‐Campus  Students  –  Providing  lessons  and  live  communications  can  provide   valuable  continuity  for  students  who  are  affected  by  illness,  live  in  remote  or  rural  locations,  or  are   unable  to  travel  to  campus.  IPTV  infrastructure  can  provide  live  links  from  classrooms  to  a  shared  bank   “Students  of   any  age,  from   preschool  to   adult  learners,   can  benefit   from  well-­‐ designed  video   content.”  
  6. 6. IPTV  for  Schools  –  21st  Century  Solutions         of  streaming  encoders,  which  are  used  to  deliver  video  to  the  remote  pupils  over  the  Internet.  As  the   out-­‐of-­‐school  population  changes,  these  encoders  can  easily  be  connected  to  different  classrooms.       Student-­‐Produced  Content  –  A  great  way  to  stimulate  creativity  and  engagement  for  students  is  to   include  video  workshops  and  assignments  into  the  curriculum.  Using  IPTV  to  share  the  results  with  other   classes  can  provide  benefits  to  other  students.  Some  schools  have  gone  so  far  as  to  have  student-­‐run   television  programming  on  a  regular  basis,  including  morning  announcements  and  even  extending  to   student  television  “stations.”       Digital  Signage  –  Clear,  effective  communications  to  a  diverse  student  population  can  be  provided   using  modern  digital  signage  technology.  In  place  of  expensive,  special  purpose  signage  devices   deployed  at  each  display  location,  IPTV  systems  can  be  configured  to  use  a  single  centralized  signage   signal  generator.  The  video  output  from  this  unit  can  be  used  to  feed  into  an  encoder  to  create  a   multicast  IPTV  stream,  which  that  can  be  distributed  throughout  the  school  to  displays  that  are   equipped  with  low  cost  standalone  decoders  or  STBs.  The  signage  signal  can  also  be  distributed  as  an   IPTV  channel,  allowing  any  connected  display  or  computer  to  be  used  for  digital  signage.       Why  Replace  COAX/CATV?     When  deciding  whether  to  replace  an  existing  in-­‐school  video  distribution  system,  many  factors   come  into  play.  Here  are  some  potential  benefits  of  converting  to  an  IPTV  system:     Flexibility  /Scalability  –  Additions,  changes  and  upgrades  can  be  expensive  and  difficult  on   traditional  coax-­‐based  video  systems.  IP  networks  can  be  easily  reconfigured  by  datacom  technicians   using  standard  hardware  and  software  tools.  IP  infrastructure  upgrades  can  be  performed  incrementally   as  traffic  loads  grow,  and  system  improvements  can  be  phased  in  gradually.  New  encoders  and  display   devices  can  be  added  whenever  new  applications  arise.       Unified  Solution  for  Live  and  On-­‐Demand  Content  –  In  many  installations,  coax  systems  are  only   used  for  live  or  real-­‐time  video  distribution.  For  on-­‐demand  content,  a  parallel  system  of  tapes,  discs   and  portable  players  is  often  used.  With  an  IPTV  system,  live  and  on-­‐demand  streams  can  be  easily   share  the  same  network  and  use  the  same  viewing  devices,  significantly  simplifying  the  management  of   valuable  video  assets  and  network  resources.       Single  Network  –  Using  a  converged  IP  backbone  for  many  types  of  services  in  the  classroom  can   drive  significant  cost  savings.  By  consolidating  traditional  intercom,  telephone,  datacom  and  video   services  into  a  single  IP  network,  the  job  of  maintaining  and  managing  the  system  becomes  greatly   simplified.       Multi-­‐Location  Content  Sharing  –  School  districts  with  multiple  buildings  frequently  need  to  make   programming  available  in  several  locations  simultaneously.  On  an  IPTV  system,  existing  data  connections   between  facilities  can  be  used  to  cost  effectively  transport  video  streams  and  files.  This  practice  can   reduce  the  number  of  encoders  and  servers  required,  and  help  economize  on  content  license  payments.      
  7. 7. IPTV  for  Schools  –  21st  Century  Solutions         Wider  Content  Variety  –  IPTV  systems  can  deliver  content  from  many  different  sources,  including   live  broadcast,  cable  and  satellite  channels  as  well  as  on-­‐demand  servers  with  large  video  libraries.  In   addition,  educators  can  easily  display  all  types  of  Internet  based  content,  such  as  YouTube  and  Vimeo   clips,  using  the  same  IP  infrastructure.  Video  from  devices  such  as  smart  phones  and  still  cameras  can   also  be  easily  uploaded  and  distributed  over  IPTV  networks.       Uses  Existing  Classroom  Equipment  –  PCs,  laptops,  projectors  and  other  equipment  that  is  already   present  in  many  classrooms  can  easily  be  connected  to  IPTV  networks.  These  devices  typically  require   only  software  upgrades  or  downloadable  app  installations.  This  can  represent  a  major  cost  savings  as   compared  to  technologies  that  require  hardware  interfaces  or  adapters  for  every  viewing  device.  As  a   bonus,  installation  costs  are  typically  reduced,  since  the  viewing  devices  are  already  connected  to  an  IP   network  in  most  cases.     Supports  More  Device  Types  –  Portable  devices  such  as  laptops  and  tablets  can  be  difficult  or   impossible  to  use  with  non-­‐IPTV  systems.  With  IPTV,  these  devices  can  use  existing  Wi-­‐Fi  infrastructure   and  employ  the  same  viewer  interface  as  hardwired  devices.         Higher  Quality  –  IPTV  systems  are  purely  digital  transmission  systems  which  do  not  suffer  the   degradations  of  analog,  cable-­‐based  systems.  Signals  can  easily  be  sent  to  hundreds  of  displays  over   networks,  crossing  many  miles  between  sites.  Standard-­‐definition,  enhanced-­‐definition  and  high   definition  signals  can  all  be  delivered  over  the  same  network.    Signal  quality  on  an  IPTV  system  can  be   equal  to  or  better  than  DVDs  and  Blu-­‐ray  discs.       Financial  Considerations   Once  the  decision  has  been  made  to  implement  an  IPTV  solution,  two  different  deployment   scenarios  are  typically  used.  The  first  approach  uses  gradual  rollout,  with  new  services  added   incrementally.  The  second  is  a  complete  replacement  of  an  existing  system.  Both  approaches  have   benefits,  and  provide  the  opportunity  for  a  customized  implementation  plan  appropriate  for  your  school   or  business.       Option  1:  Start  Small  and  Grow  –  This  deployment  scenario  takes  advantage  of  an  IPTV  system’s   ability  to  use  existing  equipment  on  an  IP  network  that  is  already  in  place.  Service  can  be  launched  with   a  single  encoder  and  delivered  to  a  selected  population  of  classrooms.  As  new  services  are  added,   additional  encoders  can  be  used  to  feed  new  channels  to  an  expanding  set  of  classrooms.  As  traffic   levels  increase,  the  IP  network  infrastructure  can  be  augmented  to  remove  any  bottlenecks.       All  of  this  can  be  done  with  zero  impact  on  in-­‐service,  legacy,  cable-­‐based  systems,  until  the  point  in   time  when  those  older  systems  are  no  longer  worth  maintaining,  when  the  remaining  services  can  be   moved  to  the  IPTV  network.  This  approach  helps  to  minimize  upfront  cash  outlays,  and  spreads  the   overall  cost  through  multiple  budget  cycles,  without  impacting  the  quality  of  the  resulting  installation.          
  8. 8. IPTV  for  Schools  –  21st  Century  Solutions         Option  2:  System  Replacement  –  Existing,  cable-­‐based  systems  can  be  removed  and  replaced   channel-­‐for-­‐channel  and  user-­‐for-­‐user  with  an  IPTV  system.  This  scenario  provides  the  quickest  path  to   delivering  all  the  benefits  to  viewers.  This  approach  helps  simplify  user  training,  and  avoids  any   confusion  for  viewers  having  to  operate  two  different  video  distribution  networks  simultaneously.   Through  the  use  of  existing  classroom  equipment,  and  the  installation  of  low-­‐cost,  high  quality   encoders,  the  upfront  costs  of  a  complete  IPTV  system  can  be  surprisingly  modest.           Conclusion     All  of  the  major  building  blocks  of  IPTV  delivery  systems  are  based  on  mature,  stable,  standardized   technologies.  This  provides  a  solid  foundation  for  building  networks,  and  supports  interoperability   between  equipment  from  different  suppliers.  System  upgrades  can  be  performed  on  a  gradual  or  a   complete  replacement  basis,  allowing  deployments  to  work  within  a  variety  of  budget  structures.  The   resulting  installations  support  a  wide  variety  of  viewing  devices  which  can  access  an  unlimited  range  of   content.  Educators  who  choose  to  deploy  high-­‐quality,  all-­‐digital  IPTV  networks  throughout  their   facilities  will  be  well-­‐positioned  for  future  growth  as  new  content  sources  appear  and  as  educational   technologies  continue  to  evolve  in  the  21st  Century.         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.       _____________________________________________________________________________________       VISIONARY  SOLUTIONS   INNOVATIVE  NETWORK  VIDEO  SOLUTIONS     _____________________________________________________________________________________