EuroMedia Magazine in their recent “TEST AND MONITOR SEGMENT SURVEY 2012″ have asked the following question: A number of players are trialling MPEG-DASH. Is this likely to become standard, and will it help address interoperability issues?
Some of the answers are presented below. (Bold formatting has been added by us for faster reading.)
We definitely see a unifying intent to standardise media players and indications that the market is starting to consolidate around MPEG-DASH. Most seem to agree that it will become standard, that it’s only a matter of time. However, the process of standardisation often takes some time [...]
Possibly it’s too little, too late. Apple HLS, Microsoft Smoothstream and Adobe HDS are dominating right now. Operators are having to cater for all these, since it is driven directly by the viewer devices people want to use: iPads, Android tablets and PCs. Luckily MPEG-DASH has some similarities to the HLS format so we can hope for a bit more harmonisation as systems grow over time.
Three players dominate the existing adaptive streaming market: Microsoft Smooth Streaming, Adobe HDS and Apple HLS. Microsoft and Adobe have thrown their weight behind MPEG-DASH (via the MPEG-DASH Industry Forum) and publicly declared their intent for their products to support DASH, while major industry players, such as Netflix, are also supporting the standard.
Apple’s position is less certain and with the iPad/iPhone eco-system being so strong, content providers can’t currently afford to ignore HLS. That said, solutions have appeared for MPEG-DASH to be converted to HLS on iOS devices, which means that the holy grail of reaching the vast majority of connected video devices with a single adaptive streaming standard is still a realistic possibility. Encouragingly, DASH has been adopted within HbbTV and OIPF, and there exist test suites and tools to minimise interoperability issues. There are still many challenges though, and it needs to be remembered that MPEG-DASH is a large toolbox so it’s still possible for a server and client to both ‘talk’ DASH but not talk to each other.
We are seeing that MPEG-DASH is being adopted across Europe, it will probably be the answer to interoperability for some countries and platforms.
Standards are the key to adoption of new technologies. Once these standards are accepted and equipment is developed to use for the transmission of video and audio, the test equipment then can be developed to ensure compliance to the standards.
The future will certainly be MPEG-DASH. However, like MPEG-2 encoding and transport before it, the standard helps with interoperability but does not solve all problems. For example, MPEG-DASH is primarily a transport mechanism which is codec agnostic. So, if the encoder and player don’t match, you won’t be able to see anything.
Although different companies push their own proprietary standards, MPEG-DASH could become a common solution across different platforms. MPEG-DASH has the advantage of being an international standard and should therefore be an ideal candidate for avoiding interoperability issues. Since MPEG-DASH offers a wide variety of profiles, full interoperability requires support of different profiles at the consumer end. The future will show if this is more widely accepted than multiple single solutions.
The MPEG-DASH standard was published as an ISO standard in April 2012. S3 Group believes that this technology will see widespread adoption. It builds on existing widely deployed web infrastructure through its reliance on standard HTTP servers and this allows use of standard HTTP-based CDN networks for content delivery.
MPEG-DASH only addresses the encapsulation and delivery of the A/V content, albeit in a very flexible fashion. There still remains the challenge of testing the system level services which are built on top of this MPEG-DASH delivery and this will continue to require innovative test and monitoring solutions.
Sure it can become standard because the market cannot adopt too many proprietary solutions (Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, etc). It’s easy to say that Apple will stay, thanks to the market penetration it has reached with the iPad. Service providers cannot ignore Apple and its proprietary technologies.
The rest of the market is so fragmented that MPEG-DASH could change the game thanks to:
- DRM interoperability;
- new enhanced codecs and Variable Bit Rate approach