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BT UK Heralds MAUD Technology to Boost Delivery of Internet and Video Content

Friday, Dec 8th, 2023 (8:00 am) - Score 3,960
video streaming player

Telecoms giant BT has today unveiled the development of a new IP transmission technology, called MAUD (Multicast-Assisted Unicast Delivery), which promises to be a more reliable, quality-focused and sustainable way of delivering content (e.g. video and TV) over the internet – doing it in a way that’s both cheaper and more efficient.

Unlike traditional “unicast” delivery methods, where each broadband connected viewer watches the action via a dedicated, personal internet stream, MAUD technology uses “multicast” to group those single streams into one shared one, directing it to those that want to watch the action.

NOTE: MAUD technology uses up to 50% less bandwidth during peak events, reducing energy usage through the use of fewer caches.

MAUD has a further advantage over ‘ordinary’ multicast streams, as its integration is made completely transparent to the player application. This means content service providers (BBC, Netflix etc.) don’t need to modify their customer apps to take advantage of this technology, which will save them both time and money.

Removing the need to select and serve millions of individual streams to viewers “substantially increases the efficiency of content delivery, but also reduces environmental impact and overall costs” for broadcasters, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), broadband ISPs and mobile operators etc.

Howard Watson, BT’s Chief Security and Networks Officer, said:

“MAUD is a major breakthrough in how we deliver content over the internet. Developed in our world leading labs at Adastral Park in Suffolk, MAUD could be a key solution to how we manage ever increasing traffic loads. By combining individual streams, MAUD delivers a more reliable, consistent picture, no matter whether customers are watching over Wi-Fi, fibre or mobile networks.”

MAUD was developed by the Content Delivery Research (CDR) team at BT’s Research Labs, based at Adastral Park in Suffolk. Analysys Mason has reportedly described the new multicast technology as being, in principle, the most “technically efficient technology for IP-delivery of live content” – that is not a small claim to make.

As usual, the real proof can only ever be found in the pudding. BT is already working with major broadcasters and platforms, such as the BBC, to develop, trial and then hopefully deploy MAUD to support live and events coverage in 2024 (it’ll also be useful for non-live content too).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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7 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Optimist says:

    How much bandwidth will this actually save in practice? One of the great advantages of video is the ability to watch on demand, and to halt and resume as necessary. Or do they have the Freeview switch-off in mind?

    1. Avatar photo Phil says:

      The transmitters will be switched off in the future and I suspect this is related to live TV, they do state in the article it is for live feeds and not streaming.

      I did think it might be something clever with on demand where they joined you with someone else’s stream at the same point, of course that would break the moment the other person paused or skipped, but then in that case the person pausing or skipping leaves that multicast group at that point and either goes back to unicast or joins another stream that happens to be at or very close to the same point they’ve skipped to or resume from.

      As it is just for live TV and we already had multicasting, I’m not sure how this is better, it certainly isn’t a new concept.

    2. Avatar photo Simon Farnsworth says:

      It’s something that works well for things like Amazon’s offering of major sports events on premium IPTV – there will be clusters of viewers at roughly the same offset in the stream, and people will tend to join a cluster and stay with it.

      You rely in part on giving the client devices large buffers of content they’ve not yet seen, and continue filling that buffer while the viewer is on pause, so that they can stick with a cluster – for example, if you give the clients a 20 minute buffer, you can have clusters for “started at kick-off”, “started 15 minutes after kick-off” etc, and move down to unicast for stragglers. But one of the points of this sort of scheme is that if I start 10 minutes after kick-off, you can have me join the “started at kick-off” cluster, unicast me 10 minutes of buffer fill, and then I’m just discarding viewed segments at a different time to everyone else in the cluster.

    3. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      The other issue with streaming live TV is that of latency. It is not unusual for live TV on iplayer for example to be at least a minute behind freeview and satellite. It is increasingly clear that the future of TV and radio is by internet streaming with the broadcast spectrum given over to mobile services so the latency issue definitely needs addressing.

  2. Avatar photo Technical Inquirer says:

    There’s not meat to their press release. Their PR page doesn’t have a link to a paper or standard, and their video doesn’t even mention the “new technology. Is this smoke and mirrors? What are they actually announcing?

  3. Avatar photo chris says:

    light on detail but looks to be like this

    “What We’re Doing
    Instead of pulling content through a tree of web caches, we instead harness the inherent capability of Internet routers to replicate packet streams. The resulting structure is still a tree, but multicast requires no additional servers, and so is inherently more efficient and scalable. This works extremely well for live streams where many users want to consume the same content at the same time, but it could also be used to pre-distribute on-demand content to edge caches in CDNs.”

    so traditional multicasting for live stuff with potential to pre cache via multicast to CDN edge caches on demand content too which is the “Assisted Unicast Delivery” bit.

    not sure how innovative that is & certainly doesn’t look like BGT are the only ones taking this approach.

    Akami solution requires client and server side work but its likely that the most popular streaming platforms are already using their stuff so would likely be minimal & likely less onerous than pulling the existing CDN & going native multicast end to end.

    the biggest hindrance looks to be ensuring stream entitlement & integrity of entitlement.

    1. Avatar photo Mick says:

      The Akamai solution requires a software client in the player, which is unlikely/challenging for every tablet, PC, phone, TV and set top box in your house. The BT solution does not need that, the multicast is converted back to unicast in the home hub making it invisible to the client. That is the ‘UD’ in Maud, “Unicast Delivery”, it looks like a standard Unicast stream to the client device.

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