Delivering video signals anywhere in the world in 1 second | Infrastructure | News | Rapid TV News
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In 2020, G-Core Labs announced a unique streaming platform built on its own global content delivery network that is able to relay video signal to anywhere in the world with a delay of under 1 second. We asked Aleksei Petrovskikh, head of G-Core Labs streaming platform department, about this platform, its capabilities, and market trends.
G COre Labs Streaming platform 13 Oct 2020

According to the Future Market Insights analytical agency, the global video streaming market at the end of 2019 amounted to more than $170 billion, and by 2028 it will increase to $591 billion. And this is not surprising: people, especially during periods of restrictive measures, enjoy watching live broadcasts of sports matches, their favourite TV shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, and follow e-sports battles. What is the G-Core Labs streaming platform and what tasks can it help solve?

The G-Core Labs streaming platform is a unique turnkey solution for live video and video-on-demand streaming that you can use to deliver video content to any device anywhere in the world in Full HD and 4K quality . We understand that viewers want to watch the decisive moments of broadcasts without delay and get access to videos and films that interest them at the moment they press the Play button. That’s why we ensured a video delivery time of 1 or 4 seconds.

By default, we support a delay of up to 4 seconds for all video streams. Such a broadcast can be conducted to an audience of 100 million viewers. Customers can also subscribe to the ultra-low latency streaming service—a premium platform service where, with the help of the WebRTC technology, the video stream delivery time is minimised to 1 second.

Using our streaming platform, you can very quickly establish a full-fledged online broadcast of a TV channel from scratch, or launch an online cinema that airs films, series, sports matches, poker tournaments, rock concerts, marketing videos, and personal video blogs. Everything can be set up from your personal account or via API. Customers don’t need their own transcoding servers, CDNs, or broadcasting engineers.

G-Core Labs has been developing its video streaming business since 2018. How is the updated Streaming Platform different from the previous version of this product, the Media Platform?

The first difference is the lowest latency in video delivery. Compared to the previous version of the platform, we have reduced the latency from 10 to between 1 and 4 seconds, which is almost 10 times less for ultra-low-latency streaming and 2.5 times less for low-latency. This is a big step forward. We use advanced technology to minimise the video stream delivery time, such as Chunked CMAF, HTTP CTE, Low Latency HLS, WebRTC, SRT, and Low Latency CDN.

Another important feature is providing streamlined support for all stages of broadcasting from capturing and converting a video stream to its playback. Our streaming platform provides all the tools you need, including transcoding, cloud storage, a content delivery network, and a cross-platform HTML5 player.

Finally, another important functionality of our streaming platform is reliable protection of customer content against copying. To protect Live broadcasts, as well as DVR and VOD recordings, we use various anti-copying methods that restrict unauthorised user access and permit streaming only through the customer’s resource, such as AES 128/256 Encryption, Tokenisation, and Signed URLs. We support the highest level of protection—DRM.

Alexey Petrovskikh G Core Labs 21 Oct 2020What are the key advantages of the G-Core Labs Streaming Platform over its competitors?

In short, it’s all-round utilisation, integration with the global content delivery network, and price.

We’ve already talked about the full cycle of streaming. Here I’d like to separately mention one of the key technological advantages of our streaming platform, which in many respects allows us to achieve record video stream delivery speeds. I mean its integration with the G-Core Labs CDN—one of the fastest and most powerful in the world, that was marked in the Guinness World Records.

We know it’s not easy to find a reliable vendor. And it takes even more time and effort to find several vendors and make them work together to achieve a certain goal. Therefore, our multifunctional streaming platform based on a powerful CDN is a great find for any customer.

The network infrastructure, which G-Core Labs has been creating for almost 10 years, is represented on all continents and includes more than 100 points of presence, and it is located as close as possible to the final audience (edge architecture), which has a positive effect on minimising delays in live broadcasts and VOD delivery.

And another one of our advantages—the price. The product has been seriously updated and uses modern technologies at all stages. This allows us to offer the best prices to existing and new customers. That’s why our prices are 15–20 % lower than the competitors’.

What businesses will most benefit from your streaming platform?

Our solution is versatile and well suited for sports broadcasters, TV channels, online cinemas and various OTT services, news portals, the betting segment, organisers of virtual concerts and e-sports tournaments, video bloggers and companies of any industry working with video content, including retailers, developers, and car dealers.

How is the solution different from YouTube and Facebook?

Streaming through our platform doesn’t have any restrictions on broadcasts, which are abundant on free public websites. It means you get a fully manageable solution with almost unlimited possibilities for customisation, configuration, and rework on demand. If necessary, the video stream can be relayed to several social networks at the same time—by pressing a couple of buttons. This way you can increase the audience of your video 10 times.

Unlike YouTube, all video content can be protected against unauthorised viewing. In addition, the platform can be used as an all-in-one solution for broadcasting or to partially implement, for example, only transcoding, CDN delivery, or the HTML5 player.

What other perks does your platform offer?

In addition to the above, we support adaptive bitrate streaming up to 4K, 360° and 3D video. We can make 4-hour recordings and rewind live broadcast (DVR). In your personal account, you have clear statistics and analytics, including data on the number of unique users, the peak number of viewers, referral lists, and so on.

We use all modern methods of streaming and content monetisation, such as Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI), several advertising modes and Anti Adblock function, H.264 AVC, H.265 HEVC, VP8, VP9, AV1 codecs, caching, shielding, and sharding with a global CDN.

Who is already using your streaming platform?

The G-Core Labs streaming platform is already used by several large European media holdings, banks, retailers, and video game developers, including Wargaming (World of Tanks, World of Warships, and other hits), Tinkoff bank (one of the world’s largest online banks), TeleSport Group media holdings, Moscow Media, and businesses specialising in household appliances, electronics, and other products.

Q: How did you manage to minimise delays? What steps did you take?

The new standards for low-latency-streaming based on HTTP (DASH, HLS), which our platform also uses, are based on the use of a variant of the HTTP 1.1 protocol called Chunked Transfer Encoding. Thanks to it, it’s possible to transfer new parts of the last (live) video segment to the customer immediately as they arrive from the transcoding servers.

At the same time, it’s necessary to ensure the immediate transfer of Chunked Transfer Encoding through the content delivery network all the way from the source to the customer without creating unnecessary traffic at the source.

We’ve successfully integrated these technologies into our platform. As a result, you can use the full power of G-Core Labs content delivery network to deliver traffic while still delivering very low latency video.

What software and hardware does your streaming platform use? Why did you select those particular solutions?

Our hardware infrastructure for video solutions consists of several geo-distributed clusters for receiving, processing, and delivering video to the servers of G-Core Labs own content delivery network. Some of these servers are used for CPU transcoding, and others for GPU transcoding.

Low latency software is our own solution in combination with a number of interchangeable open-source solutions for receiving streaming video, its transcoding, and distribution.

G-Core Labs proprietary solutions allow us to balance the load between video processing clusters and distribute video to the CDN as soon as the first frames arrive.

What was the hardest part about getting the latency of 1–4 seconds and a stable signal?

Among others, we solved two important tasks that allowed us to lower the latency to 1–4 seconds: we ensured the compatibility of low-latency streaming with many different platforms and devices, and also adjusted the caching of incompletely formed video parts in the content delivery network. The thing is that standard CDN tools usually don’t allow you to cache unfinished files, but we’ve found a solution to this problem.

What can you say about the Adblock bypass technology integrated into your streaming platform. How reliable is it?

Our streaming platform allows you to embed commercials in video streams on the server side and track their impressions. All ad-related data looks the same as the original video content. Video ad snippets are distributed from the same CDN as regular ones and have a similar URL format; the same servers track advertising events; ad metadata is indistinguishable from main content. This solution allows customers to reliably increase their advertising inventory.

What other ways of organising broadcasting on the Internet are there? What are the advantages of the G-Core Labs method and technologies?

It’s very easy to stream nowadays: take out your phone and send a video stream to YouTube or Instagram. The website, however, can block your account for violating any of the many rules. Or the broadcast may be interrupted, and the support service will reply to your email address the next day or a week later.

Therefore, for stable and cost-effective broadcasts for ten, thousand, hundred thousand or a million viewers, it’s better to use proven solutions. Few people will be happy if, during the speech of the company’s CEO, the broadcast stops for “unforeseen circumstances”.

We customise our platform optimally for the needs of the customer. You don’t have to pay for extra terabytes of unclear traffic or other hidden modules and fees.

 In general, how difficult or easy is it to maintain a stable video stream with low latency? Are the customers capable of building such an infrastructure on their own?

Viewers are annoyed by the video buffering and content unavailability caused by a slow mobile internet connection. But they don’t realise how much it costs to support instant viewing of high-quality video. Setting up high-tech streaming by investing in your infrastructure is always very expensive.

To set up streaming with low or ultra-low latency, we connected G-Core Labs own content delivery network to our platform.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, we use a number of advanced technologies to minimise latency, including Chunked CMAF, HTTP CTE, Low Latency HLS, WebRTC, SRT, and so on.

What current video streaming trends can you name? Where’s the market headed?

The media and entertainment segments based on live streaming or video-on-demand delivery are actively growing. According to a number of analytical agencies, in the next 2–3 years video will account for about 90 % of all Internet traffic. In the next 1–3 years, industries such as video games, esports, TV and media will fully switch to streaming with minimal latency. Online education, telemedicine, VR/AR, financial analytics, and e-commerce are already using premium real-time video streaming.

As the quality and speed of video delivery to any device grow, advertising budgets are redistributed in favour of video marketing.

Solutions for audience retention and content monetisation based on artificial intelligence are actively appearing on the market. Today, G-Core Labs is developing AI-based products that allow an Internet user or a TV viewer, for example, to receive information in one click about the actors and landmarks in the frame, or the dress or watch an anchor is wearing. This will provide great new opportunities for advertisers.

We also expect big sporting events to be held in 8K in the near future, and the actively developing 5G mobile technologies will allow this video content to be delivered to a large number of mobile devices.

Here’s another trend: in a number of markets, including the USA and China, the production of 12K content is actively developing today, which is in demand, in particular, in the VR and AR segments. Accordingly, the task arises of high-quality and seamless delivery of such heavy traffic to end users and viewers around the world. All of this means that more time and resources will be invested in video streaming.