3G bonding alternative at Olympics

With hundreds of thousands of mobile phones expected to overload the 3G networks around the London Olympic Park, camera teams using 3G bonding links may not be able to get usable upload bandwidth for live streaming or ftp feeds, writes David Fox.
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With hundreds of thousands of mobile phones expected to overload the 3G networks around the London Olympic Park, camera teams using 3G bonding links may not be able to get usable upload bandwidth for live streaming or ftp feeds, writes David Fox. As an alternative, Boxx TV has set up an uncontended enterprise grade WiFi hotspot overlooking the main Olympic park, which will be dedicated to broadcasters using platforms such as LiveU, Quicklink, Livestream, Dejero, TVU or even Skype. It can also be used to send packages via FTP with upload speeds of around 4Mbps. Boxx will be supplying portable hardware to access the unique hotspot that will allow crews with and without broadcasting rights uncontended 4M upload internet connections from various points around the London Olympic Park area. “The quality is not as good as a dedicated bearer, but it is more reliable than 3G bonding,” said Scott Walker, Boxx.tv's co-founder and CTO. “We can offer constant bandwidth and it’s perfect for an interview. With these streaming techniques, it’s not always about high bandwidth, but reliable bandwidth.” Users would typically set their encoder for 2.5 to 3Mbps, and get exclusive use of the link for live time slots. Boxx will supply the antenna (which is about the size of a paperback book) with a USB dongle for ftp’ing from a computer. Boxx has signed up a receive site on a 23-story tower overlooking the Olympic park, with line of sight to most of the major venues, including the main stadium and the aquatic centre. The restaurant area of the adjacent Westfield shopping centre is also in sight, which means that crews could find somewhere to sit and eat, edit a package and ftp it in comfort. The link should have a reach of at least 4km, which covers most of the park. The antenna has a 20º beam, “so you don’t have to be completely accurate,” he said. “You can see the signal strength on your computer go up and down as you move the antenna, so it’s easy to set up.” It will offer a range of packages, such as ten 30-minute live slots, plus unlimited ftp, but will give priority to live feeds on the day. Boxx only secured the site last week but has already had a lot of interest from broadcasters, although he expects it will only be once crews try to use the 3G networks on the opening day and find them overloaded that takeup will really take off. www.boxx.tv

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