In 2014, azamTV integrated VideoFlow’s Digital Video Protection (DVP) to solve the problem of live TV channel quality issues from Zanzibar. The root cause for these quality issues was the unreliable behaviour of the microwave radio links connecting Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam. The success of turning it from an unreliable connection, which required frequent manual intervention to reconfigure and fix, to an ultra-reliable one that needs very little attention has given azamTV’s the confidence to accelerate its rollout programme of extending its content gathering network across Africa.
“That link was a major headache – I literally had to swap cables around and reconfigure manually if there was a disruption in the service,” explained Balaji L Nagalgave, IT Manager at azamTV. “With VideoFlow’s technology, the link is working perfectly and I don’t have to do anything as the VideoFlow technology does all the adjustments automatically to maintain the high quality video stream. I am now a very happy IT manager as I can sleep better at night!”
The success of VideoFlow’s ‘fit and forget’ technology was developed by azamTV into a ‘cookie cutter’ solution where the solution implemented between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam is easily replicated. This means that azamTV has been able to accelerate its plans to extend its content gathering network. The first phase included adding eight new TV channels from Uganda to azamTV’s NOC at Dar es Salaam over fibre. Each connection is comprised of two fibres, each connected to a different ISP to provide a reliable network capable of uninterrupted, high quality, live broadcast 24/7.
“One of the biggest challenges of adding a new TV channel to the azamTV network used to be determining what kind of links were available for the video stream and how reliable they were,” added Balaji Nagalgave. “With VideoFlow technology, this is no longer a problem because we now know the answers to most technical questions. This speeds up the deployment of new connections considerably and makes my life much easier. I know that, whatever kind of link, VideoFlow will make it work perfectly and reliably. This is very important as azam has built its success and brand on delivering quality broadcasts and viewers expect that the quality of their favourite programs that they watch will be no less than perfect.”
Mr Jacob Joseph, COO of azam, was highly impressed by the Zanzibar setup and extended his support for further expansion of the project to other channels. As a result, azamTV is currently rolling out VideoFlow-protected links to additional nine neighbouring countries including Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, and Mozambique. All gathered content is sent to France where it is uplinked to a Eutelsat satellite providing azamTV’s multi-channel DTH (Direct To Home) service in Africa.
Eran Shalev, VideoFlow’s VP Marketing, added, “The perception that fibres are error free might be misleading, in particular when using long-haul fibre connections such as in the case of azamTV. “Closed Garden” networks will normally have better quality than unmanaged networks but even 0.1% of packets loss can degrade the viewer’s quality of experience to an unacceptable level. The quality of the connection is measured by the weakest link in the chain and Africa has a wide variety of legacy technologies and is also adding new ones creating a complex mixture of content delivery systems of variable quality. As proven by azamTV, VideoFlow technology can ensure that whatever technology is used to transport the video stream -- from Internet to satellite and from microwave to leased line, packets will never be lost and that the video stream remains at the high quality broadcasters require to maintain their brand image.”
Live video broadcasts are sent as a continuous bit stream, which IP networks were never designed to handle, resulting in artefacts caused by packet jitter, and packet loss. More than a couple of seconds of latency is unacceptable by customers expecting to enjoy the excitement of live events like sport as they happen. VideoFlow’s technology ensures that no packet is lost and the packet jitter caused by transiting the IP network is nullified. By doing so, it affords the opportunity to lower the costs of uninterrupted, live high, quality video service in place of existing, expensive solutions.
The DVP comes as a “Plug and Play” pair – a Protector, which stores the packets until it is certain that they have been correctly received, and a Sentinel which monitors the health of the video stream by watching for packet loss and requests packets to be resent from the Protector’s cache only if required. This is ensured by VideoFlow’s patents, which cover techniques to minimize the number of packets that have to be resent. VideoFlow’s solution is highly flexible working with internet connections as slow as 200Kb/s or as fast as 800Mbps yet delivering the desired high quality. VideoFlow’s patents also covers techniques to reduce bandwidth overhead to the minimum possible and to keep any delays at less than the two seconds, which is the maximum tolerated for true live broadcasts. VideoFlow’s DVP family of products enables the reduction of bandwidth requirements cutting operational costs compared to the current solutions. Video demo at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9ZjpjIlonU&feature=player_embedded
azamTV is part of Azam Media Limited, one of the Bakhresa Group of companies (www.bakhresa.com). Bakhresa Group is one of Tanzania’s leading Industrial Houses with a turnover of $600 million and over 5000 employees. Its business interests extend from food to transportation and from media to real estate.
VideoFlow is a leading provider of proven, cost effective, easy to use, and scalable solutions to ensure uninterrupted, secure, live broadcast-quality video delivery over any IP network. It provides continuous service from OB Vehicles to the NOC, reduces International TV channel/network distribution costs, improves teleport margins through higher network utilization, slashes OTT video contribution costs and reduces access costs to cloud-based video services. The VideoFlow product portfolio guarantee highest video quality over any network or infrastructure, managed or unmanaged, including fibres, DSLs, satellite links, microwave links, Wi-Fi, and cellular. It is encoding/decoding technology as well as video resolution independent handling MPEG2, H.264, and HEVC, at any resolution including SD, HD, 4K, and 8K. VideoFlow solution is equipment vendor independent, working with any broadcast equipment vendor of your choice. VideoFlow product portfolio is a solution widely adopted worldwide.