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OTT delivery – Standing on the shoulders of multimedia innovations

OTT delivery – Standing on the shoulders of multimedia innovations

In his keynote at the recently concluded MWC 2023, Nokia CEO Pekka Lundmark declared that Nokia is a leader in B2B technology innovation. One perfect example of this is Nokia’s leadership in multimedia and the technologies that serve as a key enabler in the OTT content delivery chain. With 8 Emmy Awards, 2 Grammys and one Academy Award, Nokia is a widely acknowledged powerhouse in multimedia technologies. 

From the earliest audio codec that helped carry voice over 2G cellular systems to the latest Immersive Voice and Audio Services (IVAS) codec, from the H.264 Advanced Video Codec (AVC) of the early 2000s to the latest H.267 codec, the Video Coding for Machines (VCM) codec and Visual Volumetric Video-based Coding (V3C) codec, Nokia has always been at the forefront of multimedia innovation. 

Delivering multimedia content is challenging

The world has made much progress in creating technologies that deliver data faster and with lower latency. From 2G to 5G cellular standards, data rates and latency have taken astronomical leaps. However, delivering engaging multimedia content to consumers is challenging even with these advancements in connectivity technologies. 

Consider a typical example in the OTT space – streaming of 4K content on modern smart TVs. A simple back of the envelop calculation will reveal that data rates in excess of 10 Gbps are needed to deliver this content in uncompressed form. In contrast, connection speeds available at homes, even in developed countries, are typically only about 100 Mbps. This is two orders of magnitude less (~1/100 times) than the actual requirement. 

That’s not all. This 100 Mbps connection needs to be shared between OTT streaming and all other services that are typically consumed simultaneously, such as internet browsing, online-gaming, video conferencing, etc. So how are we able to stream our favorite shows, even while other family members simultaneously play online games, browse the Internet or place video calls with colleagues or fellow students? It’s all made possible by efficient video compression techniques that can compress video by more than 1000 times.

For example, the H.265 High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard that was finalized almost 10 years ago in 2013 and is finally on its way to claiming a top spot in the video compression world, can compress a 4K video by almost 800 times to reduce the 10 Gbps requirement to a more realistic ~10Mbps. This allows us to not only stream high-quality content but also leave enough room for other applications. Simply put, the OTT business would not exist without efficient video coding standards!

The best technology benefits all

Over the past almost three decades, Nokia has collaborated with other technology leaders and has been a driving force behind developing open video coding standards such as H.264/AVC, H.265/HEVC and H.266/VVC. As a result of this continuous 30+ years of research in video coding technologies, Nokia not only owns one of the strongest patent portfolios in video coding standards but also a significant patent portfolio in several proprietary video codecs. 

In addition, due to a rich history of innovation in network infrastructure, cloud and network services, and product implementation via incubations, Nokia has developed a sizeable patent portfolio in non-standardized technologies that enable the entire OTT content delivery chain, starting from content creation, all the way to consumption of content on end user devices. 

Simply put, Nokia is not only a leader in video coding standards but a leader in B2B technology innovation in the OTT space.

Lastly, while being able to enjoy modern technology in the developed world sounds exciting, I believe that true progress is made when technology benefits all, not just a privileged few. With 5G offering high-bandwidth and low-latency connections and the latest video codecs offering high-quality videos at unbelievably low data rates, I believe we are finally at a point where high-quality video streaming can be accessible to all sections of the society. It’s no wonder then that most of the growth in the OTT business is expected to come from developing countries and on handheld cellular devices. This is just one example of how at Nokia, we create technology that helps the world act together.

Amitabh Dixit

About Amitabh Dixit

Amitabh is the Chief Technology Director, Multimedia and New Segments at Nokia Technologies. He has been with Nokia for almost 20 years, holding various roles in research and intellectual property organizations. In his current role, Amitabh’s priorities are to identify key technologies that will serve as the foundation of future multimedia-based offerings and steer Nokia’s massive innovation engine in the direction of these key technologies. 

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