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Sat 9 Aug 2008 04:00 AM

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ADMC opts for IPTV

Digital Studio looks at how ADMC cuts costs by deploying a DVB-to-IPTV gateway solution.

Digital Studio looks at how ADMC cuts costs by deploying a DVB-to-IPTV gateway solution.

Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC), the UAE capital's government-owned media conglomerate, recently deployed the Flamingo DVB-to-IP gateway solution at its Al Ittihad newspaper facility.

The installation will enable ADMC to cost-effectively provide 400 of its employees, who work with its Arabic daily, Al Ittihad and English broadsheet, The National with instant access to a range of TV channels from their desktops.

The media conglomerate also has a two-fold expansion plan for the future, which includes investing in additional Anevia boxes to increase the number of channels accessible to its employees as well as expanding the IPTV service to its staff at Abu Dhabi TV.

Once the expansion is completed, more than 600 employees at ADMC will have access to the service.

"This IPTV installation is highly beneficial for our operations especially because our employees now have direct satellite access," says Abdul Hadi Al Sheikh, chief technology officer at ADMC.

"The Flamingo will help our newsroom and editorial teams to be up-to-date with the latest news using IP technology. We will also benefit from seamless TV channel monitoring and 24/7 news access throughout the building."

Previously, ADMC would have had to install one TV set on each of its employees' desks along with smart cards for each of the pay TV operators to give them access to breaking news, sports scores and other international stories.

Through the Flamingo, ADMC staff can now watch encrypted or free-to-air digital channels from satellite channels (DVB-S or DVB-S2), digital terrestrial TV (DVB-T), cable TV (DVB-C) or professional DVB equipment (DVB-ASI) in unicast or multicast mode over an IP network at their respective desktops.

With this installation, ADMC has eliminated the need to purchase individual pay TV subscriptions for each of its employees. Instead, the smart cards are inserted into the Anevia Box, which acts like a receiver and is connected to a satellite.

It then takes the TV signals and streams them to the in-house network in MPEG 4 format.Furthermore, an in-house application was developed to categorise the channels and give the editors only what they want, according to Majdi Hanna, press IT supervisor, ADMC.

"The English-language editors, for instance, won't need the Arabic channels and vice versa. An employee can also run as many channels as their screen can potentially take. This could be anything from six channels to more depending on the size of their screen."

Presently, ADMC has invested in two boxes with four ports, of which three are utilised. ADMC plans to invest in at least four more boxes to give its staff access to more channels.

The media company also plans to purchase Anevia's Toucan suite of applications in the future to run Video on Demand (VOD), where an editor can record a programme and then, watch it later.

Damien Lucas, co-founder of Anevia says that the services implemented on the existing IP Network combine multiple benefits including ease of use, fast installation on employees' computers, seamless TV channel monitoring as well as ubiquitous access throughout the building.

"Additionally, Flamingo is the cornerstone for future developments related to ADMC site coverage and end-user usage such as VOD, nPVR or Catch-Up TV, which will be made available through Anevia's TOUCAN suite of applications," says Lucas.

So far, there has been no instance of congestion at the facility. "The main challenge was to ensure that multiple users could be given access to multiple channels without any delay in frames or effect on quality. We have only about 50 concurrent users at a time among the 400 users and most do not access more than three or four channels at a time. So, we don't foresee see any issues coming up," explains Hanna.

The project was undertaken by Dubai-based systems integrator, PRO TECHnology. "The entire installation process took one day, and it was handed over a week after the delivery of the equipment," explains Jamal Maraqa, managing director, PRO TECHnology.

"The end-users were given a briefing on how to access multiple channels and open several screens from their PCs when they are connected to the LAN. Slowly, we will see ADMC extending this solution for future developments related to site coverage and end-user usage. Through this technology, ADMC will now be in a position to provide new features for high-quality digital video delivery, thereby extending its capacility to offer more TV channels to staff."

 Seeing the success of the first implementation, ADMC is already looking to extend the benefits of IPTV to improve its production processes within The National.

Al Sheikh confirms that ADMC has plans to expand the technology to other departments within the organisation.

"ADMC is seriously considering spreading this technology across all media departments, which requires instant access to information. We are continuously seeking new platforms in the name of credible information dissemination. At present, we are evaluating other platforms wherein the IPTV technology can be used as a faster and a more advanced means to exchange information. We know that on a parallel note, this must be driven by content and we are taking care of this by investing in new content that will interest our viewers."

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