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Telstra signs broadcast IP network deal with Fox Sports

Telstra is moving further into the delivery of broadcast content, announcing that its Distributed Production Network will be fully operational by March 2018 under a deal to deliver live content for Fox Sports.

Telstra has announced that its media-focused IP network, designed to transmit simultaneous channels of uncompressed linear contribution video, will be used to help broadcast live content for Fox Sports at "the lowest possible latency".

Under the long-term deal with Fox Sports, Telstra's Distributed Production Network (DPN) will be used to transmit equipment control signals, audio feeds, and raw camera footage across the network back to remote production hubs in Sydney and Melbourne, sometimes from up to 3,500km away.

The DPN is aimed at being "fully operational" by March 2018, Telstra said, and will support more than 500 top tier live sporting events per year by connecting 29 stadiums across the country with these production hubs.

"Telstra's DPN is designed to help our broadcast customers meet the rapidly growing demand for live content by offering access to our high-capacity, low-latency, multi-tenant network of scale," head of Telstra Broadcast Services Trevor Boal said.

Boal added that Telstra is able to deliver such a broadcast-capable network thanks to its nationwide mobile coverage.

Telstra's DPN has a 100Gbps standard capacity at each venue, thanks to a combination of different network paths, and is managed through the ScheduALL Connector Cloud API.

Telstra earlier this year similarly launched a system for broadcasters to deliver both live and file-based media content worldwide with its Global Media Network, utilising a "geographically diverse dual path ring" to ensure that data traffic is automatically diverted when there are network disruptions.

The Telstra Global Media Network relies on the telecommunications provider's global submarine fibre cable network, four teleports, 40 satellites, and broadcast operations in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Telstra last year also showcased its fully operational Broadcast Operations Centre (BOC) in Sydney, which manages over 400 video, audio, and data services. It provides broadcasters with content-transfer solutions via its fibre, satellite, and IP networks as part of the Telstra Broadcast Services business.

While the DPN does not rely on the BOC, ZDNet understands that the BOC infrastructure can be used as an additional layer of management and monitoring when required.

In terms of Telstra's consumer-focused broadcast media capabilities, Ericsson last month announced that Telstra would be deploying its cloud-based processing, transcoding, streaming, and distribution of media workloads via micro-services across its network.

As part of Telstra's cloud media strategy, Ericsson's MediaFirst Video Processing portfolio will allow the telecommunications provider to process and deliver broadcast-ready content in near-real time. The suite utilises high-efficiency video coding (HEVC) compression technology and is made up of MediaFirst Encoding Live, MediaFirst Encoding On Demand, MediaFirst Packaging, and MediaFirst Management Controller.

"This is the next step in our virtualisation program ... setting up broadcast configured cloud native processing, storage, and network capabilities across our network will enable us to offer broadcasters services to run traditional high bandwidth-intensive media applications where and when they are needed," Gary Traver, director of Media Telstra, said in April.

"Telstra's goal for the broadcast sector is to provide reliable and resilient network access, with strong bandwidth and latency requirements, supporting broadcasters in their shift toward use of IP processing for broadcast content."

Telstra and Ericsson in February also announced that they would be launching an LTE-Broadcast (LTE-B) network across the country to be progressively deployed between 2017 and 2018.

As part of the rollout, Ericsson and Expway are working to implement multicast-operation-on-demand (MooD) technology -- which will shift customers between unicast to broadcast transmissions depending on load -- and service continuity between broadcast and unicast coverage areas by November 2017.

Telstra and Ericsson also announced their media content-delivery solution with 21st Century Fox in February, with the solution making use of Ericsson's cloud-based MediaFirst store for processing and origin of the content; Ericsson MediaFirst TV platform for personalisation of the content; and Ericsson Unified Delivery Network for global content delivery.

The system will send personalised movie content to consumers' devices without impacting device performance or data plans by multi-casting it during off-peak times.

According to Telstra CEO Andrew Penn, the solution was designed in response to the increasing uptake of consumers watching entertainment on their smartphones, with Telstra providing its LTE-B and global media network capabilities for the solution.