NAB Perspectives: Ericsson’s Hobbs on the ‘TV Ecosystem’

It wasn’t too many years ago that a visit to the Ericsson booth at the NAB Show would involve an overview of cellphones. But the thoroughly transformed Ericsson now has a much broader mission.

“There are three key components that make up the television ecosystem: content, networks, and consumers,” says Lisa Hobbs, head of broadcast compression solutions. “So we are focused on pulling that all together in real solutions that can be used by everybody.”

New this year is Voyager II, a digital satellite newsgathering system that encodes MPEG-4 AVC 4:2:2 in 10-bit at up to 1080p/50 or 60 resolution.  A multiformat contribution encoder that can handle MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 AVC and even 3D was also unveiled.

The biggest change at Ericsson is actually not what the company is providing but what its customers are asking for: support for new business models. Increasingly, content distributors are taking advantage of second or even third distribution methods, methods they may be unfamiliar with.

“We have a technology-solutions group that is dedicated to delivering those solutions, as we are very much getting into some prime integration work,” says Hobbs. “Customers need someone to come in and build a platform, operate it, and then transfer operations after a period of time.”

She is also seeing a lot of hybrid systems in the market, such as a service that uses both satellite and IPTV. “And then, certainly, content providers want to get contribution links from point A to point B to offer the highest quality possible. Customers are looking at both H.264 and JPEG2000 as solutions.”

Sports, Hobbs adds, always wants to be progressive, so, as new distribution modes — like 1080p/60, 3D, or even 4K — eventually take hold, sports content will be at the fore.

“We still have to look at how to get something like 1080p/60 into consumers’ homes,” she says. “We have been hearing that next-generation chips will have 1080p/50 and 60 capabilities.”