In today’s episode, Jamie sits down with Xavier Leclercq of Broadpeak to discuss…
📺 The platforms that Broadpeak have used in the past
📺 Why RDK stands out to them
📺 Multicast ABR, and bringing RDK-V and RDK-B together.
Hello, and welcome to the RDK podcast. I’m your host, Jamie Walker. And today I’m joined by the wonderful Xavier Leclercq, Vice President of Business Development at Broadpeak. How are you doing?
Hi Jamie, yeah very well, thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here today.
It’s great to have you on board. Thanks for your time today. Xavier, just for our listeners who might not be aware of Broadpeak as an organisation, could you give us a little insight into what you do in video technology?
Sure, yeah. So Broadpeak provides a software solutions for operators and content providers looking to store and deliver video at scale. So we provide modular solutions to enable high quality of experience and low cost of delivery. I’ll give you maybe three examples. So you see better what we do.
We provide content delivery network technology to scale video distribution. So when we deployed with operators like with telecom in France to deliver their fixed line, and mobile customer video services, or serving sector boxes, connected TVs, tablets, and phones, we also provide cloud DVR solution for operators that are looking to offer live and timeshifted services to their customers. So things like restart TV, catch up TV network PDR. And this is deployed by operators like orange in multiple affiliates across Europe, where basically you have hundreds of live channels being offered on demand to many devices. And finally, we also provide quite a unique solution called the nano CDN. And this is basically a multicast DVR solution we have pioneered over the last few years. And this is deployed by operators, like I said, Come in Israel, to escape live video delivery to multiple multi screen devices using multicast.
Amazing, thank you for the insight into Broadpeak. So what platforms have you used in the past to create video delivery components? And how have they worked out for you?
Um, so when it comes to running out solutions in operators network, we’ve been historically deploying on dedicated hardware, right, so optimising configuration for specific workloads. For example, if you have a CDN cache that is going to serve, I don’t know, maybe a large video on demand library, you will need high performance storage, right. So not just because of the volume of data, but also for the bandwidth that the storage we need to provide, right, we’ve been through the cycle of you know, spinning drives, SSD NVMe. Now, and what is interesting is when there is still a lot of deployments on bare metal today, right on dedicated server, there’s also been a rise of the cloud inside operators network, right. So we’re now talking about the elasticity of the application so that the capacity can flex with demand, right?
So see, if you are streaming, I don’t know you in the UEFA champions League football games, you may need a lot more capacity than normal, you might need, I don’t know, 10 times 20 times the capacity you usually have on the network. So we are more and more deploying flexible solutions in those private or public cloud. And the main difference here for us at broadpeak is that we obviously don’t deliver the hardware in the solution anymore, right, we basically focus on the application, the customer bring their own virtualized or containerized platform, and we only deploy our application. So the split is is very interesting. And I think you saw the heart of the industry today enables, you know, easy operation for for the customer. And also faster time to market, right one of the main benefits of the cloud, and faster innovation, because on our side, we focus more on the application, rather than the platform, right. So by using the cloud, we we will benefit also from the services that are hosted in the cloud.
So you know, if I give you an example, if you want to deploy an application, a cloud native application on EC two on AWS, in those environments, if you use databases, you don’t need to embed a SQL Server, for example, in your application, right. Instead, you will use a hosted service, you know, an RDS service, for example, provided by AWS for your SQL database. So for us is similar. You know, we basically leverage what is available in our customers network. An example could be object storage, right? So we have customers that provide storage as a service on their private cloud. And this is, you know, facility we can use to basically store recordings, for example from a cloud DVR application. So I think leveraging the Here’s an interesting angle. And for us, this is definitely a big trend in the industry. So if you look, I think more closely at the video delivery. For us, there’s one particular application that has, where there is an important CPE component. That’s the multicast ABR. Right. So if you’re not maybe familiar with multicast ABR, that concept is very simple. How can I combine the scalability and the quality of the multicast on managed networks with the versatility of ABR, to reach any screens in the home, right, so for medical stabia to work, we basically need to deploy some software inside the home network, right? So that the multicast coming in can be converted back to unicast. And that’s what we call the nano CDN agent, right. So this basically allows you to be at home, maybe watching the football game on your iPad, on your Wi Fi, and you’re basically playing a fee that that has been served by multicast from your operator. Okay. So this gives you the scalability very good quality of experience, low latency.
And, and this is where it gets interesting for us today, right? This nano CDN agent, that does the conversion between multicast and unicast has to be deployed on a CP at home. So I’m here you have multiple options, you may be able to put it on a gateway on the CPE. I mean, those are the two most popular options. And if you put it on the set top box, typically set top box are quite powerful, because they have a little bit more horsepower and a bit more resources available. And they also connected to them to the big screen or to the main screen where you will have high bandwidth requirement. So so this is a good option to put you know nanosci DNA gent Alternatively, the agent can also be deployed inside your home router, your your broadband gateway if you like. And here you have the advantage which all your devices in the home, right and not having to carry also multicast over Wi Fi. So um, so yeah, another popular options. And as you can see, you know, there’s quite a, you know, a range of devices that can be used to integrate this technology. At broad peak, we’ve done about 120 integrations to various devices, from your old, you know, cable modems to the latest, or 24. optical networks. We’ve done Android TV, set top boxes, Apple TV devices, and obviously now you know, our dkv set of boxes.
Very busy then. Right. So, I mean, overall, then, you know, we’ve given the operators more freedom and a quicker opportunity to provide a better service for their end users. Right. Absolutely. So, on that point, what do you think RDK are doing differently to Android TV?
Yeah, so in my mind, I think is the openness that makes RDK an interesting platform. And if you look back, you know, back in time a little bit. We’ve seen Android and Apple iOS that they basically proved that openness adds value to the ecosystem, right? Just consider how much efficiency and how much innovation, these platforms have brought into the mobile world, right, 10 years ago, everything was closed. And you know, with iOS, and with Android, you know, it has been we have been able to see an explosion of innovation over the years, I think, I think it is interesting to compare it with the mobile world. And it’s true.
So now we the set top box wor ld, right. So with Android TV, Apple TV, and RDK-V, by being open these platforms, they basically allow application providers to come in and offer new, innovative services, right. So we think this is where RDK is, is interesting in this family of open platforms, specifically to RDK I think the fact that RDK provides some shared source code functions, right, that’s great too, short, and again, the time to market. And since some basic functions come by default, as the application providers can focus on bringing innovative features, again, not the whole platform, but focus on what we do bring innovation to the platform.
So um, so this is where it gets very interesting for us. And, and if you look ahead a little bit, the way we see it is that an open system today in 2021, is about the coupling the CP hardware and the software, again, very close to what’s happening in the cloud right within the networks. And by doing this by splitting the two together, you’re basically providing a framework to welcome the specialised third party applications, right. So rather than expecting one entity to provide everything on top of the hardware, the numerous application and complex software application, you basically split it and you have no lock in with your application vendors, you liberate innovation, and ingenuity, you make it much easier to operate between the different devices.
Absolutely. And offering that opportunity for more innovation is only going to advance the industry for further quicker as well. With where we are now, RDK-V is working brilliantly, as you said, with with setup boxes. But how can we bring RDK-B into the video world?
Yeah, so, in my mind, this is the highest potential for the game, right? I mean, the centre box, you know is important and the toolbox provided by RDK is very powerful. Today, we see large operators deploying RDK-V based setup box, like you know, here in the UK, my Virgin Media setup box recently flashed to run the new middleware based on RDK refers to the development done by Liberty Global, which went very well, by the way.
But I think going forward, I believe the gateway will become more important. And the reason for that, if you look, you know, the spectrum of technology, you find today, some legacy broadcast and MPEG, you know, ts transport stream technology that, you know, is well covered by all the set top box providers, including RDK. But the future is on ABR, right on adaptive bitrate technology, the technology you use to reach any device in the home. And this is the clear distribution format for tomorrow to basically secure scalability and quality. And since ABR, is a streaming of IP, it is linked to broadband networks, right. So this idea of getting the processes closer to the end users basically not only applies to the set top box, but also the gateway as an extension to that to the network intelligence. So um, I think multicast DVR here is a good example of that, right, we see operators deploying nano CDN to enable the transition to full ABR video, I can give you an example, maybe.
We have a customer called mega cabling in Mexico. And they have replaced their legacy transport stream technology with a full ABR distribution. That’s everything, including the linear services. So this means that they have the same ABR technology for all application, whether they do they deliver content with t mobile devices, whether it’s live, linear timeshifted. It’s all ABR and that gives them basically a much cheaper platform, right? It’s significantly cheaper to do ABR. Compared to MPEG, you don’t have all the legacy technology like conditional access, and you know, all the things that were expensive in the past with with MPEG, it makes it more compatible with the streaming devices. So if you stream to an Apple TV device, or if you stream to a fire TV, or Chromecast, this is possible with the technology. And I think it also opens personalization. And this is a big deal when it comes to doing targeted advertising, being able to insert specific ads within the content to be able to monetize the content. So when the ad is interesting, and you’re ready to start with make a cabaret is I think a good example, because we started the nano CDN interceptor box, right, we wanted to serve the main screen to start with. And now you know, they have also integrated the nano CDN inside the home gateways, right. And the reason is simple.
The video services are being delivered to many devices. So what they need this extra intelligence, not just in the setup box, but also in the gateway. So um, it is interesting for RDK, right, you know, when RDK is ready to open up the gateway in a similar way does open the set top box, then I think operators will take the advantage of deploying new services on the gateway. And I think this will allow them to offer new value add services to their customers, you know, broader themes, things like security in the home network, as a service, wafer optimization, content filtering for paradigm control. And obviously, your video optimization like the multicast ABR.
Exactly, and I think this is where the excitement is, as well, right? Is the avenues it’s opening up and the additional offerings that we can offer customers and, the innovation as well, again to to the operators using this. But touching on that as well; the Euro Summit, the end of 2020, RDK announced RDK-4. How do you see the future and where we can take RDK forward?
Yeah, good question. Right. In the latest version, the RDK-4, there’s a clear focus on opening the platform to external application, right. So to me, the natural step is to extend it into broadband, what we said about RDK-B and then, if you look if you take a step back, and if you look at where this industry is going the you know, the technology is going everybody talks about edge computing these days. So we see IP networks trending towards multi access, edge computing of Mac, right, where it’s all about good sort about going deeper inside your brightest network.
So, you know, moving maybe from 20 pops in a country like the UK to maybe two to 300 pops, you know, in the next couple of years to be able to host those third party applications. Right. So this is happening today with 5G, with the new architecture of cable networks. And I think the opportunity here with RDK-4 and what are the case doing especially On the gateway is to open up the home user. So the home gateway for the users, right? So being able to run third party application on the gateway and basically push this idea of edge computing, not just into two or three paths, but all the way inside the gateways of, you know, maybe potentially millions of customers.
So this is an interesting concept. Sometimes, people call it the mist computing. So after the edge or the fog, you know, comes the mist computing, but what is clear today is that RDK is the most advanced initiative to open these platforms. So why not just for cable, but also for DSL and fibre? And I think there is, you know, there’s a really interesting card here that can be played by RDK to to open up and push basically edge computing all the way inside the home gateways.
Absolutely. And it’s been really interesting as well, since the announcement we’ve seen some of the other community members put contributions towards and it’s interesting to see everybody have their own take on it.
So maybe to wrap it up, right, I think this is the the clear course of history right closed down proprietary, CPS approach are likely to become you know, frankly, limited and therefore obsolete at some point soon. Platforms like Android TV and RDK-V have opened a set top box just like iOS and Android, open mobile devices some time ago, the next major opportunities to open up the gateway with RDK-V, and with video streaming being one of the most important subjects to tackle, multicast ABR i think is a great example of how apps in the CPE can improve the delivery.
Xavier, I just want to say it’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on the podcast. Thank you so much to you, and our listeners for tuning in today. I really appreciate your time.
Yep, it’s my pleasure, Jamie. Yeah. Thank you.
Perfect. Xavier, just before we go, where can our listeners find you online?
That’s a good question. So I think the best thing to do is probably to follow the broadpeak page on Twitter and LinkedIn. I think it’s broadpeak.TV versus another broadpeak, which is I think an IT company in Pakistan. So not quite what we do. Not quite the video with technology. So yeah, it’s appropriate that TV.
Perfect, Xavier. Thank you for your time today. It’s great having you on the show.
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