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<nettime> Public WiFi Network 2 Public Cable Network
Drazen Pantic on Fri, 7 Feb 2003 10:37:28 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Public WiFi Network 2 Public Cable Network

Experimental Broadcast: Public WiFi Network 2 Public Cable Network  

What is the Experiment About?  

The goal of the experiment is to establish procedure and criteria for 
broadcasting to the cable or satellite TV network from remote locations, using 
laptop, camera and any type of available broad-band Internet connections - 
preferably WiFi. 

The motivation for such an exercise is the attempt to break away from classical 
TV production in a studio environment and enable immediate and on-the-fly 
transmission from remote locations to the TV network, ultimately leading toward 
creative production of program from within a P2P network.  

How Was It Done?  

Bryant Park in New York is one of the largest public WiFi access points, with 
enough bandwidth to carry Internet streaming at sufficiently high quality, 
acceptable for TV transmission. Prior to the experiment, the following quality 
threshold has been established: 

* video quality: 320x240 pixels in size, with 8 frames per second, encoded by 
an open MPEG4 video codec (Xvid);
* audio quality: 128 kbps AAC or MP3 compression codec. 

Hardware and software were deliberately composed in order to be within the 
reach of a mid-skilled Internet user: a standard IBook with OS X operating 
system and (publicly available) QuickTime Broadcaster as well as a digital 
camera. Alternative, and more preferable solution would be a fully Open Source 
solution: a PC laptop with Linux operating system and MPEG4IP software bundle. 

The Internet broadcast was then unicast via WiFi network (installed in the 
Bryant park by NYCWireless.net) to the computer at MNN (mnn.org) and finally 
transformed to a video signal by a scan converter. The signal was then 
channeled into a video mixer and played in an experimental setting as a regular 
broadcast stream.  

What Were the Results of the Experiment? 

The most important result is that the concept is valid: the current 
consumer-level technology, coupled with broad-band Internet, offers viable 
framework for distributed TV production and distribution via the Internet. 

Connectivity and bandwidth found in Bryant Park was sufficient enough for the 
Internet broadcast to the MNN headquarters. While we stayed in the range of 
500-800 kbps range, we did not fined any significant bandwidth congestion. 

Video quality and the smoothness of the video has varied, according to what 
compression codec or image quality we have used, but as general rule we 
concluded that the image quality is very good, but we would need additional 
resources (more efficient software or more powerful CPU) to archive a goal of 
of constant 8 frames per second rate. 

It would be interesting to test x86/Linux/MPEG4IP combination in the same 
setup. Some preliminary tests from PC desktop show slightly better results.  

What is the Road-Map for the Future? 

* assemble a PC version of the remote broadcaster, based fully on Open Source 
software and conduct equivalent tests; 
* compile easy plug-and-play software setup, convenient for standard 
mid-skilled users 
* make a bootable Linux CD, with all the software needed, and as many WiFi, 
audio and video device drivers included, enabling immediate establishing of 
broadcast services upon boot.  

Who and When has done the experiment? 

Experiment was conducted on a particularly cold day in January 2003, by (in 
alphabetical order) 

Kenyatta Cheese (MNN)
Martin Lucas (Hunter College)
Drazen Pantic (Location One) 

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