After going through the voice era and the data era, the communications industry is entering the video era. Video is the primary carrier for information creation, spread and consumption in the ICT industry. Statistics show that video accounts for 70% of total network traffic. Higher quality video experience, smarter video interaction, and more diversified video application scenarios are key elements in a strategic upgrade of the video industry. Video, especially HD/4K, will become a major service carried by networks. The number of households worldwide which pay for digital video service will reach over 1 billion mark, which means huge market potential of video.
Many operators have upgraded video from a traditional VAS to a basic pillar of their strategy. Video service development has gradually shifted from increasing user base to increasing APRU with good user experience and precision marketing. To help operators address challenges in the new era, ZTE proposes the brand new Big Video 3.0S solution (Fig. 1), aiming to achieve a "New Experience, New Platform, and New Operation". Through a smooth upgrade of operators’ existing IPTV platforms, this solution can help operators realize their two strategic goals－network reconstruction and operation reconstruction.
"New Experience" with a focus on one-second improvements means a comprehensively improved user experience. "New Platform" means a new-generation video platform with unified EPG and iCDN as its core. "New Operation" means smart operation and maintenance (O&M), which can greatly improve the profitability of the video service.
To make IPTV a significant attraction for users, enabling high-quality user experience is a prerequisite. ZTE Big Video 3.0S solution is user experience-centric. It proposes the concepts of "splendid, special, smart, and speed", which precisely define the criteria for user experience assessments in the video 3.0 era. Its ultimate purpose is to get users engaged at the very beginning and offer them personalized guidance and natural interaction experience.
Users will have a immersive viewing experience the moment the TV is turned on. The interface always has some kind of streaming element. When users browse the program guide, channels will run in the background. When they enter the live TV menu, channels in the preview PIP windows will be displayed simultaneously. The PIP preview is changed in real time as the channel is switched. When users open the VOD content pages, instead of dull introduction texts, they can view trailers that are automatically loaded and played.
Big Video 3.0S understands users better with its big data-based analysis. Through CDN frame extraction and smart analysis, it enables fast update of short video posters and replacements of default posters of movies in the viewing history, allowing users to get a content preview directly.
Big Video 3.0S has a brand new interface that offers great visual effects. The EPG interface with a waterfall-style design reduces interface complexity and saves space, making browsing easier for users. Users can browse each module (e.g. latest recommendations, movies and TV series) in one page, and each module is composed of system recommendations, hot columns, hot programs, and recommended stars. Since multi-dimensional contents are displayed, users can easily find their preferred programs.
When users are watching programs, relevant contents with different tags will be intelligently recommended. Based on the users' previous watching habits, contents can be matched precisely with the user preferences.
Navigation is easy. With roller-type cross searching, users can find interesting contents in various aspects effectively and rapidly. The navigation drawer layout allows users user to focus on the main content.
To fulfill different requirements of family members, user interfaces customized for different roles are available. For example, the user interface for children has a child-friendly cartoon look and presents videos appropriate for them; the user interface for the elderly has a large font size.
Voice control is becoming a new habit for users. Big Video 3.0S offers powerful voice control capabilities, allowing users to change channels, search for contents and perform operations on VOD programs through intuitive voice commands.
With the CDN frame extraction technology, when a video is released, images with specified resolution will be extracted at an interval of several seconds based on the frame extraction service configuration. When a user wants to play the preview, a request for thumbnail pictures will be sent to the frame extraction server. Preview thumbnails can be displayed when the progress bar is hovered over. This gives users a visual way to browse content of the video. Markers can be added on the progress bar to indicate the locations of interesting contents in a video.
Big Video 3.0S creates a "one minute faster" user experience with speedy response and zero latency, differentiating itself from internet videos and improving the user stickiness.
For live channels, the PIP swapping time is reduced from 1-2 seconds to less than 0.5 second. With the cache technology, the EPG poster loading time is reduced from more than 1 second to less than 0.5 second. 4K videos can be played within 1 second.
ZTE Big Video 3.0S helps operators build a brand new video service platform, which also helps create a new ecosystem. With unified EPG and service management platform, it completely solves the multi-vendor CDN interconnection problem. Content interconnection, capability scheduling, service development, and terminal management will be unified to greatly improve O&M efficiency. End-to-end security is realized through four aspects: security O&M, WAF firewall, live broadcast anti-tampering, and content anti-tampering. A EPG editing tool is also provided for fast and convenient page editing to ensure the timeliness of EPG information.
ZTE Big Video iCDN solution truly integrates IPTV, OTT and cache services in one CDN platform, and with the added support for interconnection with third-party CDNs and capability leasing, it can significantly reduce operators’ expenditure and improve operators' capability in providing unified services. Meanwhile, it uses technologies like smart scheduling, M-ABR, JITP and JITT to greatly reduce network bearing and content storage costs. In 2018, ZTE launched the VS3000H series and VS3000S series CDN devices with the maximum throughput for a single device reaching 60 Gbps and 90 Gbps respectively. In 2019, a single CDN device is going to achieve a throughput of 200 Gbps, providing powerful support for scaled deployments of 4K and 8K services.
ZTE Vinsight smart maintenance platform based on video quality evaluation system (V-QoE) can timely detect and diagnose video service problems. Based on its big data analytics capability, it allows operators to utilize various marketing methods (e.g. personalized display, desktop layout, in-depth operation of contents, smart advertising, smart recommendation, smart search) and refined marketing strategies to gain more market share. In December 2017, ZTE launched a pre-commercial trial of Big Video 3.0S on the existing network of China Telecom Fujian Branch, demonstrating that ZTE Big Video 3.0S is capable of full commercial use. On October 30, 2018, at a smart TV press conference held in Anyang, Henan Province, China Unicom Henan Branch, China Broadcasting Network (Henan Branch), and ZTE announced that the new generation IPTV video platform Big Video 3.0S has been put into commercial use.
Big Video 1.0 solves the basic video problems, which helps create the IPTV service. Big Video 2.0 further improves the service. Big Video 3.0S that makes technology upgrades to improve the user experience will improve APRU, increase customer retention, and add new impetus to the industry growth.
Big video 3.0S, new experience, new platform, new operation, smart interaction