A Transformative Moment

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On March 17, I shared a new vision for our company and industry to our customers, media, analysts and industry notables. The event was held at New York’s Madison Square Garden, a long-time customer. Our industry is facing momentous change, and on that day, I announced that Harris Broadcast was adapting to this change and becoming Imagine Communications and GatesAir.

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Over the past year, we validated with our customers and partners that our media software, content management and networking portfolio was on a diverging technology path from that of our radio and television over-the-air transmission portfolio. As such, we created Imagine Communications and GatesAir, allowing each company to further focus on developing next-generation solutions for their markets and customers. Imagine Communications will focus on innovation that leverages software, the cloud, virtualization and IP, while GatesAir will focus on power efficiencies, form-factor and spectrum frequency innovation for next-generation TV and Radio over-the-air solutions.

When I joined Harris Broadcast nearly a year ago, I was surprised at the state of an industry which remains fragmented, proprietary, hardware-dependent, lacking in technology reference architectures, and without an ecosystem-friendly supplier community. The IT and Communication Service Provider world, where I spent the past 25 years innovating, had substantially migrated to IP-based technologies. Service-Oriented Architectures and Software-Defined Networks (SDN) have been widely implemented, and open standards and reference architectures have been adopted – accelerating application development and differentiated capabilities, all of which have resulted in a mobile network that has grown from 1 to 6 billion subscribers in less than a decade.

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Imagine Communications and GatesAir will lead the media production, broadcast and content distribution industry through what will be one of its most transformative decades. We are embracing a technology ecosystem required to transition today’s network, which is hindered by proprietary dependencies, to the network of the future that leverages the power of IP, open standards, networks defined by software and innovative wireless solutions that will broaden the capabilities of today’s spectrum.

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Many of the media broadcast networks are rooted in decades-old technology such as analog, baseband, standard definition and tape drives. Yet our industry needs to migrate with agility, which requires technology partners that have the vision, product roadmap, scale and track record to navigate through what will certainly be a dynamic market for many years to come.

Imagine Communications encompasses the broadest media software and networking portfolio in the industry, from CRM software to automation, video servers, playout, asset management, archiving, signaling, routing, compression and transcoding.  Likewise GatesAir has the most comprehensive next generation over-the-air radio and television solutions.

Today, Imagine Communications is announcing new frameworks that will provide the foundation for our products and solutions: Software Defined Networking and Workflows, MediaCentral and TV Everywhere.

Software Defined Networking creates a fully virtualized network fabric for deploying advanced services by allowing the bit flow to be software-defined. It provides an open structure for an on-ramp and off-ramp to IP, enabling all content to be software controlled and managed. By leveraging the scale and reliability of commercial computing platforms and network functions virtualization (NFV), software defined applications and solutions can leverage the power of private or public cloud-based networks.

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Software Defined Workflows™ (SDW) will map standard video workflows into the SDN structure, creating a flexible, accelerated service development environment. Traditionally, changing the workflow meant changing the systems, which are static and in many cases hard-coded in the processing systems. Bringing core flexibility benefits of SDN and SDW to the baseband systems of today, we can provide a logical extension of existing investments and a pathway to a hybrid/IP future. SDW will become an accelerator for new applications and services, improving service velocity — and resolving many of the challenges that our industry is facing today and certainly tomorrow.

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While these new software defined frameworks will provide the industry with necessary advancement in technology and future-proofing of broadcast and distribution network, the services capabilities for TV Everywhere will define how we will watch, share and monetize video content. Over the past decade, enhancements to the Internet, broadband and mobility have given consumers virtually everything they could desire – from smart phones, to tablets, to business applications, and interactive social media and games.  However, TV broadcast and content distributors have yet to fully realize and enable TV Everywhere due to business and financial models, as well as network capabilities which remain elusive.

Today, we also introduced our enhanced TV Everywhere portfolio, SelenioNext™ and SelenioEdge™, powered by our Software Defined Networking, Software Defined Workflow and MediaCentral frameworks. This combination includes high-density ABR transcoding, integrated packager and origin server, and scalable HTTP streaming — providing an end-to-end media, playout and distribution solution to address the industry’s key challenge of monetizing TV Everywhere across mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets in addition to internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes. These new product and service capabilities will help the industry move to Advanced Advertising models that will create high value, meaningful and addressable advertising that improves the TV Everywhere monetization dynamics.

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As mentioned, we have also unveiled a game-changing, software and IP-based industry framework called MediaCentral. It enables TV and radio broadcasters, TV networks, and content distributors to migrate their sales, advertising and traffic CRM, playout, automation and data analytics functionality to the cloud (private/public). MediaCentral enables the integration and virtualization of these media management functions that were previously provided in distinct, separate and often premises-based products, uniquely providing our customers and business partners with a flexible, integrated and cost-effective platform to monetize their media assets and manage multiscreen content.

Our industry is embarking on a transformative era, one that broadcasters, TV networks and distributors need to be prepared for. Content and viewing options have never been as fluid. The network of the future is already here and consumers will always demand more. Interactive social networking, gaming and mobility are fueling new market dynamics and new business and monetization models. At Imagine Communications and GatesAir, we are designing and delivering the network of the future – today. Come visit us at NAB (Booths N2503 and N609) and learn more about our market leading media software, content management, networking and over-the-air solutions.

We are certainly listening and learning. Come give us a test drive, I think you will like what’s under the hood.

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