The Significance of the RIST Main Profile (By Cobalt)

By Ciro A. Noronha Ph.D., Cobalt Digital

Low-latency, cost-effective video contribution over the Internet in a multi-vendor environment was made possible by RIST Simple Profile, published by the Video Services Forum (VSF) in October/2018.  The RIST Simple Profile provides best-in-class packet protection, as well as support for multi-link bonding and seamless switching and there are already commercial products available today which implement the RIST Simple Profile.


With the introduction of the RIST Main Profile, we have the addition of a number of critical features to Simple Profile.  The most important of these features is encryption (and associated authentication).  Your content is valuable, and it needs to be protected against eavesdropping while traveling through the Internet.  RIST Main Profile uses industry-standard DTLS, with a variety of available cyphers to ensure the most up-to-date protection, while being flexible to accommodate local legal regulations.  Support for pre-shared keys is also included, which makes RIST Main Profile compatible with one-to-many environments such as satellite or multicast distribution. Authentication ensures that the remote end is indeed who you think they are.  This is important, for example, if you have a reporter or remote site sending a stream that goes on air – you do not want some unauthorized third-party hijacking your signal. 

Tunnelling and multiplexing

Another important feature is tunnelling and multiplexing – the ability to combine multiple Simple Profile RIST streams into one single connection, optionally with one single encryption and authentication step.  As with encryption, this is achieved using industry-standard GRE over UDP.  Tunnelling greatly simplifies firewall configuration, and your IT department will be grateful for that.  Another advantage of this feature is support for in-band data and control, using the same connection as the streams.  With in-band control, a technician in the broadcast center can “ride” the connection back and make adjustments to the equipment in the field, if necessary,

Other new features

Other Main Profile features include bandwidth optimization by deleting NULL packets at the source and re-inserting them at the destination, and support for high bit rate streams.  Bandwidth optimization saves on the order of 5-10% of the capacity, which is typically sufficient to run the RIST Simple Profile packet protection – making it so that operating over the Internet does require any additional resources.  Support for high bit rate streams allows RIST to eventually be used for uncompressed or lightly compressed content.


RIST allows broadcasters to pick and choose the best equipment for the job without being locked into vendor-proprietary solutions.  And, all of this without compromising quality or security.  RIST was jointly designed by experts from a number of companies, and the various components were selected to be the best the industry has to offer.

Ciro Noronha will be talking in detail about the RIST Main Profile, the upcoming features and the technologies behind it, at the RIST Day on 16th September during IBC. For more information or to register, please visit the RIST Day page


Alexander Sandstrom