Qantas Q Streaming by Panasonic – a deep technical and security analysis

plane

Wireless In-Flight Entertainment is a hot and controversially discussed topic. Some see it disrupt traditional IFE business while others clearly consider it a niche technology suitable only for a small portion of the general IFE market.

As a software consulting company focusing the online media industry and playing an ever growing role in the In-Flight Entertainment space, we have taken a close look at the new wireless IFE system offered by the company who used to dominate the legacy IFE market during the last decades: Panasonic Avionics. Its Wireless IFEC solution is called “eXW”. This is the first in a series of reports where we will cover the majority of this new wireless kind of In-Flight Entertainment systems.

Panasonic’s system is currently deployed to a substantial part of Qantas’ narrow-body fleet. Qantas has invented its own name for the wireless IFE offering on their planes: it’s called “Q Streaming“. We assumed the end user’s role and flew thousands of miles across the fifth continent in order to gather all the information we needed for a thorough technical analysis. We have created a report detailing various aspects of the system from a passenger’s view with a couple of surprising results. Please contact us, if you are interested in the full report. Here is the table of contents:

Table of Contents

If you are interested in the full report, please contact us.

The two models of DRM

We often find that DRM is hard to understand for our customers who present content to end-users – it is something that is required by content owners but which provides minimal extra value to the content presenter. This means that there is an incentive to spend as little time and money as possible on DRM – ideally, it is seen as a switch you simply turn into the “on” position.

While that is a perfectly reasonable approach, it is also possible to make use of an appropriately flexible DRM platform to drive some of the entitlement-related business logic and thus save development effort. Whether a customer is interested in doing this determines which of two very different DRM models must be used in the solution.

Our SilverHD DRM platform was originally engineered to provide the maximum benefit to our customers, so we made the initial assumption that deep integration was desirable. In practice, this has only been true with around half of our customers. The current version of SilverHD DRM can cater equally well to both types of needs – separating them into a plug-and-play model and an integrated model.

This article describes the differences between the two DRM usage models and what sort of impact they have on solution development and integration. Our DRM platform uses the PlayReady technology but these models can also be roughly applied to other equivalent DRM technologies.

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Evaluating encoders for Live Smooth Streaming

As part of a recent project we designed the infrastructure for delivery of TV channels over the Internet as part of an over-the-top TV solution. Among the tasks we undertook was an evaluation of several encoders available on the market, during which I gained much valuable data, which I will try to share here.

This article is written primarily to help you make an informed choice when in a similar situation – I will outline the key factors that deserve special attention and outline potential issues you may encounter when looking for a suitable encoder.

In the interest of fairness – products evolve over time and what is true today might not have been true when we performed our evaluation – I will not name the encoders that I evaluated, with the exception of the best performing one.

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Optimizing IIS Smooth Streaming for CPU-constrained devices

Today’s media delivery landscape is highly heterogenous – modern software solutions can expect to serve users over wildly different network connections and on multiple software and hardware platforms. In such a situation it is very cost-effective to use a single media delivery technology to serve all of these viewers.

When we combine the use of standard codecs such as H.264 and AAC with an adaptive streaming technology and a sufficiently clever player implementation, this can be the reality – the choice of widely supported codecs means that the media stream will play on every modern platform and the use of adaptive streaming means that viewers will be served content that matches their available bandwidth and computational resources.

One of the more widespread adaptive streaming technologies is IIS Smooth Streaming, developed by Microsoft. Together with the server-side technology, Microsoft also provides a player implementation for the Silverlight platform. This article gives you an overview of how to configure the Silverlight player for optimal behavior on CPU-constrained devices.

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