Sky Italia is the largest pay-TV operator in Italy and one of the largest in Europe, serving 4.73 million subscribers. The company distributes more than 150 channels, mainly via satellite, and its Sky Go brand of content is distributed to mobiles and tablets using OTT delivery. Sky Italia is owned by Sky, Europe’s leading entertainment company, serving more than 21 million customers across five countries: Italy, Germany, Austria, the UK and Ireland.
When Sky (formerly BSkyB) acquired Sky Italia in 2014 and Sky Deutschland in 2015, the multinational, UK-headquartered PayTV giant decided to consolidate the new markets’ operations in Milan, tasking Sky Italia with handling all signal contribution for Sky Deutschland.
Sky Italia supports more than 150 of its own channels from operations centers in Milan and Rome, where individual feeds and multiplexed streams are transported within and between the two locations. Faced with the additional burden of handling signal contribution between Milan and Munich, Sky Italia needed to migrate to a large-scale routing system.
As the new routing system needed to be distributed across several locations (floors) within the Milan facility, Sky Italia decided to design the system around an IP switching core using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) IP switches.
However, they also wanted the new implementation to connect to the legacy SDI systems within the Milan facility.
The immediate goal was to leverage the speed and scalability benefits of IP, while achieving the same level of switching quality as they had experienced using a baseband router. In addition, Sky Italia planned to implement an IP-based disaster recovery system at their Rome location. In the longer term, as more production and broadcast equipment becomes IP-centric, Sky Italia’s plan is for all the video distribution components within their Milan facility to be IP-based, creating a fully virtualized audio/video routing ecosystem. They were ready to begin a managed transition to an all-IP infrastructure that minimizes disruption and preserves their existing workflows.
Also key to Sky Italia’s implementation is Imagine’s Selenio™ MCP processing, compression and IP networking platform, featuring 500 multichannel UCIP gateway cards. Both the Platinum and Selenio UCIP cards are modular “on-ramp/off-ramp” solutions that encapsulate SDI baseband signals into IP streams and vice versa. Sky Italia can use the UCIP modules to manage the synchronization of IP signals where they re-enter the HD-SDI world, eliminating network jitter and aligning perfectly to legacy sync signals. The modules are also able to synchronize its output time-base via PTP (SMPTE 2059), and can do full AES67 audio breakaway and re-combination of the audio signals from/to the SDI signals.
The Magellan SDN Orchestrator controls the Platinum IP3 routers, i.e., the SDI signal flows within the Sky Italia infrastructure. Sky Italia can also use the Magellan SDN Orchestrator to control the stream-flows and mappings inside their IP network — providing the bandwidth management and Quality of Service (QoS) required to achieve professional broadcast performance. SDI and IP sources and destinations are kept in a single Magellan SDN Orchestrator database, and the gateways between the SDI infrastructure and the IP virtual matrix — as well as the allocation of bandwidth between the IP switches — are managed using tie-line control methods.
The Sky Italia system is a hybrid SDI and IP matrix distributed across several areas of one building – all controlled by a seamless, unified management layer.
- Rooms 1 & 2: Main/backup Selenio UCIP modules feed into main/backup IP network using ST2022-7 seamless merge redundancy. Capacity to encapsulate 512 HD-SDI signals into ST 2022-6 streams
- Rooms 3 & 4: De-encapsulation from ST 2022-6 streams back into HD-SDI via Selenio UCIP modules using the same redundancy architecture and mechanisms
- Main Room: Main/backup Platinum IP3 routers with integrated PX UCIP modules connect to legacy SDI infrastructure and provide capacity to de-encapsulate 128 ST 2022-6 streams into HD-SDI and vice versa