How Tata Communications is driving innovation in media service with Net Insight

“Net Insight is one of our most valuable partners in the media space. The core of our media platform is Global Media Network – Video Connect – which from day one has been based on the Nimbra series of switches.” Jeremy Dujardin, Chief Technology Officer – Media & Entertainment Services, Tata Communications

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The Brief

In recent years the demand from broadcasters – and sports rights holders in particular – to transition their live event operations to a remote production model has intensified. The ability to streamline costs yet deliver rich content to viewers hungry for live experiences is a strategic necessity in the fight for audience share. With the acceleration of cloud adoption as a delivery method, media companies gain more flexibility and
reduce time to market for services, without impacting latency and quality.

The Company

Tata Communications is a leading global digital ecosystem enabler and owner of the world’s largest subsea fiber backbone and a Tier-1 IP network. The company carries around 30% of the world’s internet routes, and connects businesses to 60% of the world’s cloud giants and four out of five mobile subscribers. Its flagship global media transport network of over 300 media hotspots across 125 cities is optimized for the demands of broadcast-quality real-time video.

The Challenge

Tata Communications and Net Insight have partnered on technical solutions for media clients for over a decade. The Nimbra multi-service media transport platform is a key component in Tata Communications’ Video Connect network which has expanded globally on every continent and for clients as prestigious as MotoGP, PGA European Tour, World Rally Championship, Star Sports, Encompass and the English Premier League.

Building on this trust relationship, and to continue to meet the industry’s growing bandwidth demands, Tata Communications is launching a new media backbone of unprecedented scale. Delivered in collaboration with Net Insight, the global 100G IP media backbone will enable broadcasters, sports
organizations, OTT companies and eSports businesses to offer their audiences worldwide more immersive viewing and gaming experiences and transform how they operate through cost-efficient full remote or distributed production. Using the cloud as an alternative delivery method, they can bring agility in process and workflow as well as reducing TCOs.

The Solution

Net Insight has been at the heart of Tata Communications support for professional media services since 2008 when the companies partnered to give customers a competitive edge. Net Insight was selected to deliver the switching and processing solution for Tata Communications’ global media network, chosen for its multi-service capabilities, future scalability, quality of service, and wide range of network restoration options.

The implementation of Video Connect opened up unlimited capabilities for Tata Communications to offer services to the media market. Initially targeting small to medium size media customers based on a 622MB backbone, the two companies have worked in lockstep to achieve a single goal: to win more business together for the media market. The media network was subsequently upgraded to 2.5GB and as business grew to multiple 10GBs. Starting with just five units of Net Insight’s Nimbra platform, Tata Communications currently have more than 600 units deployed.

Tata Communications provides a wide range of contribution services to the broadcast industry including encoding, decoding and transport of video at high quality and low latency for live events back to master control for production purposes as well as the onward broadcast distribution of live video to audiences around the world.

“Our Video Connect network can facilitate lossless, lightning-fast content transfer across all stages of the media value chain,” Dujardin says. “The ability to provide everything from uncompressed video to J2K down to MPEG compressed video is critical, Net Insight gives us this ability which is an advantage we pass on to our media customers.”

Tata Communications has been actively supporting many premium sports rights holders and broadcasters do just this. As an example, they worked with MotoGP, and federations including the European Tour of Golf or Soccer leagues in Americas through their production partner Vista Worldwide and helped them to take advantage of remote and distributed produced workflows.

“Remote and distributed production is a major driver of services on our Media Network. We’ve been increasing capacity from venues and into major rights holders all over the world due to all the connectivity required,” Dujardin says. “Hundred percent reliability is key for remote live production and the Nimbra solution offers a number of unique mechanisms to assure that content is delivered with perfect quality regardless of any
network issue.”

With the Covid-19 pandemic impacting the entire media production and broadcast industry and the critical transformation made in ways of working, collaboration and content production, under current circumstances this capability has never been more relevant.

To support the growing demand for remote produced events, last year Tata Communications had already embarked on a plan to upgrade Video Connect with multiple 100GB links. “Making Tata Communications’ backbone 100GB capable is crucial, as new bandwidth-hungry content formats emerge, and as more and more of our customers transform how they operate through remote production,” explains Dujardin. “A single remote production today typically requires a base capacity of 4GB to 10GB simply to support 1080p. To cater for the next wave of services at UltraHD 4K/8K with High Dynamic Range we selected Net Insight to provide for all the core video switching that is required for a 100GB backbone.”

Tata Communications’ engineering lab has certified the new Nimbra 1060 platform, a next generation Wide Area Network transport-platform designed for all-IP services and all-IP networks.

The Nimbra 1060 guarantees quality for the most demanding live media events while providing agility through automated real-time provisioning. Scaling network capacity to levels unheard of in the media industry, the technology provides high levels of flexibility and guaranteed service quality, making it easy for Tata Communications to service customers wanting to produce and deliver UltraHD/4K live productions to SMPTE ST 2110 even for remote and distributed productions.

Dujardin adds, “Net Insight allows us to provide a hitless, reliable, low latency solution for very, very high bandwidth, high quality applications for our customers.”

The Results

Tata Communications has already begun deploying the Net Insight 1060s into its network at different parts of the globe beginning in the U.S and Asia, and is on track to have full deployment of multiple 100GB links across its entire infrastructure by the end of this year.

“Tata Communications together with Net Insight have been highly successful in bringing new customers on to our platform because of the quality and reliability that we guarantee our customers. Being able to tell a broadcaster that you’re providing their video services on a Nimbra-powered platform provides them with the reassurance that, with all the work they have put into that video signal when they hand it off, it is going to be delivered with ultra-high reliability.” Jeremy Dujardin, Chief Technology Officer – Media & Entertainment Services, Tata Communications

The strategic relationship between the two companies doesn’t end there. Always with an eye to the future, Tata Communications is currently lab testing the new Nimbra Edge for elastic cloud-based live media transport. Nimbra Edge is a secure, interoperable, and easy to use cloud transport solution to scale and deliver professional live media workflows, such as primary distribution and interconnect services.

“We have partnered with Net Insight and used its technology for first and last mile services over the internet very successfully,” Dujardin says. “The work Net Insight is doing to virtualize that platform and to create a switching layer on top is what we see a lot of value in going forward. It will give our customers the ability to leverage a more software-based approach to contribute video over the internet and deliver content to their audiences over our network.”

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