Wednesday, November 7, 2007

ITU Study Group 9 Approves Standards for IPTV and VoIP

During meetings held last week at the CableLabs headquarters, the ITU Study Group 9, entitled Integrated Broadband Cable Networks and Television and Sound Transmission, approved for standardization a major recommendation contributing to the advancement of IPTV, Recommendation J.700 "IPTV Service Requirements and Framework for Secondary Distribution."

Secondary distribution is an ITU term meaning use of a transmission channel for distribution of video/audio programs to users at large, for example by an over-the-air broadcast channel or by means of a fiber or cable network.

In addition, recommendations relating to second- and third-generation IPCablecom were "consented" or approved for consideration by the full ITU for standardization. These recommendations add to a suite of more than 25 recommendations which have been developed for cable and hybrid networks primarily designed for television and sound program delivery to the home as integrated broadband networks to also carry voice and other time-critical services including video on demand interactive services.

From the beginning of this work on IPCablecom up until now, equipment based upon these recommendations, such as modems, set-top boxes, signaling equipment, interactive television application platform interfaces, digital program insertion, and others have had widespread implementation in networks in Asia, Europe, and North America.

Also, of interest to the movie and theater industries, is Recommendation J.600 "Transport of Large Screen Digital Imagery (LSDI) applications that employ MPEG-2 encoded HDTV signals." Significant progress was made on a new draft recommendation related to the transport of program signals conforming to the higher levels of the LSDI expanded hierarchy as used for contribution and primary distribution.

The J.600 Recommendation addresses use of a broadband service or channel for transferring audio or video information to a production center where post-production processing may take place before subsequent distribution. Primary distribution is the use of a transmission channel for transferring audio and/or video information from a production center to one or several destination points; for example, to a broadcast transmitting center or the headend of a cable distribution network. Work in this LSDI area has been done with interactions between ITU-T Study Group 9, ITU-R Study Group 6, and other bodies external to the ITU.

The J.202 Recommendation "Harmonization of procedural content formats for interactive TV applications" was updated to reflect the most current version of the ETSI GEM (Globally Executable MHP) standard. GEM forms the common core for similar middleware standards worldwide, including the OpenCable Platform in the US and Korea, ARIB in Japan, and the Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) in most of Europe and elsewhere.

CableLabs also noted a discussion between ITU vice chairman for APIs, Charlie Sandbank, and the chairman of ITU Study Group 9, Dr. Richard R. Green, President and CEO of CableLabs, on certain actions being contemplated by the FCC to require the US cable industry to support an architecture divergent from the J.200 Recommendation supported by the US in the ITU. As a result, the two vice chairmen of ITU Study Group 9 sent a letter last week to the FCC expressing their concerns. The letter is available at


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