Digital Fountain, Inc.
, the leading supplier of advanced FEC (forward error correction) technology for reliable communications, announced today the availability of the DF ToughStream Engine for streaming applications including IPTV and Internet TV. ToughStream provides application and equipment vendors with the easiest way to incorporate FEC technology into streaming applications. ToughStream "makes streams tough" protecting video and audio streams from common impairments including packet loss, latency and jitter and lost packets typical of IP networks, allowing reliable and efficient delivery to the end-user without interruptions.
Employing Digital Fountain's patented DF RaptorT FEC technology that was standardized in 2005 by both 3GPP (the world's largest cellular standards organization) and DVB-H (the leading mobile broadcasting standard), the ToughStream Engine minimizes bandwidth overhead and all-but eliminates buffering delays by recovering lost packets without requiring retransmission. Any packetized stream can be protected, independent of the type of media encoding or compression, data rate, or use of encryption.
"The secret is out and network architects are realizing that FEC enables TV-grade delivery over IP while eliminating the requirement to over-provision networks," said Charlie Oppenheimer, CEO of Digital Fountain. "The ToughStream Engine allows developers of IPTV and Internet TV applications to quickly bring to market FEC-enabled solutions that will deliver perfect quality streams while saving money and bandwidth for operators and content providers."
Alternative methods for ensuring stream quality are buffering data ahead of time, which causes frustrating delays and limits the user's ability to sample numerous streams or "channel surf", and Pro-MPEG FEC. Pro-MPEG, sometimes used for IPTV solutions, wastes large amounts of bandwidth and offers very limited protection of the transported stream.
Prior to ToughStream, developers wishing to incorporate FEC had to deeply understand how FEC works, create or adopt some suitable protocol and then spend months tuning to achieve the desired results. Often, such solutions were inflexible to the varying demands of different networks.
With ToughStream, developers are presented with a simple and familiar network socket architecture. ToughStream handles all of the complexities of FEC processing and data transport automatically. The sending application simply writes streaming packets to the socket and the receiving application simply reads streaming packets from the socket. Numerous parameters are run-time configurable, allowing for simple tuning of the optimal mix of loss protection, bandwidth usage, processing resources and quality.
The ToughStream Engine technology was designed to be simple for licensees to quickly integrate into a streaming solution, allowing developers to accelerate their time to market, reduce their development costs, and reduce their project risk and complexity. Because ToughStream incorporates DF Raptor, it offers the benefit of the most efficient and effective FEC available. No other solution can provide a similar combination of bandwidth efficiency and stream quality.
Digital Fountain also announced the availability of the DF ToughStream Evaluation Platform. Deployed as a hardware-based system placed inline in production or laboratory networks, it allows operators and equipment vendors to evaluate how a network will perform with the ToughStream Engine without having to write a single line of code. The system offers a simple web-based user interface that allows the operator to vary ToughStream configuration parameters and to measure resulting network and system performance.
Currently in broad commercial use for IPTV services offered in Japan, the DF Raptor FEC technology is incorporated in Sumitomo Electric Networks' StreamCruiser IP set-top boxes - which are used by subscribers of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) Corporation Communications' OCN Theater video-on-demand services and others.