The Streaming Video Alliance (SVA) has been urging online service providers and vendors of technology for delivery of video over the Internet to rally behind common standards.
The SVA’s Executive Director Jason Thibeault has consistently argued that the streaming industry must move away from the fragmented, complex and in some cases antagonistic proprietary video architectures prevailing today to gain the scale required for mass deployment of OTT services. Without such common standards the march from traditional broadcasting to OTT will be slowed down as consumers become frustrated by their new viewing experiences, while broadband network operators will see their infrastructures bogged down by all the additional traffic. There has been some evidence of this during the current FIFA 2018 football World Cup, with a number of broadcasters and operators experiencing the glitches such as buffering and visual artefacts that they hoped had been confined to OTT history. In some cases, their networks had been overwhelmed by traffic and unable to sustain normal quality of service.
The SVA was set up in 2014 as an umbrella organization defining the broad framework at a high level for OTT video services based on interoperable infrastructure components. Other longer standing standards bodies are then developing the detailed technical specifications, according to its Executive Director Jason Thibeault. Such bodies include MPEG with its DASH adaptive bit rate streaming technology, the Alliance for Open Media on codecs optimized for online environments and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) with the HTML5 markup language incorporating support for video.
The SVA aims to assimilate these standards into a common higher-level framework that will enhance scalability and improve performance, with latency kept to a minimum. Thibeault stressed the SVA would keep working with these bodies and other players in the video ecosystem to ensure that the standards would coexist and that any gaps were plugged.
This distinguishes the SVA from some other umbrella standards bodies such as the Ultra HD Forum that do not define standards themselves at all. The SVA will step up and develop specifications where they are lacking, as it has been doing over the three related areas of Open Caching, live streaming and Quality of Quality of Experience (QoE) measurement. These are being developed by SVA working groups that are collaborating to ensure they are aligned and dovetail properly. One point here is that while there are some effective proprietary technologies designed to minimize latency over live streaming services, such as Net Insight’s Sye, there are no universally agreed mechanisms.
One side effect of the SVA’ focus on open standards is that some of the major CDN and service providers have proved reluctant to support the work because they want to extract advantage from their proprietary ecosystems. So while Google recently joined Amazon Web services (AWS), Cisco, Comcast, Intel, Liberty Global, NBCUniversal, Nokia and Verizon as SVA members, Apple, Microsoft, Akamai and Netflix have yet to join. The SVA is actively lobbying these big players to join according to Thibeault, because it is aware it does not yet represent the whole streaming industry. However, it has sufficient momentum and enough big hitters on board to ensure that its standards are still likely to enjoy wide implementation.
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