Streaming video from point A to point B has never been easier than it is today. Using just an Internet connection, PCs, smartphones, and even some cameras can go live with just a few clicks. And since most small forms of live streaming are done on handsets with a single LTE connection or at home with a stable hardwired source, live streaming has hitherto been pretty positively received in the video consumer market.
But when it comes large-scale projects with high production value like event broadcasting and remote-location publishing, a single Internet connection is about as trustworthy as a printer on your assignment’s due date: it’s going to crap itself when you least expect it. And when big clients and reputations are breathing down your neck, the last thing you want it a botched connection.
So what do live media producers use to get the job done nowadays? An innovative piece of technology called cellular network bonding. Teradek’s Bond system combines several 3G/4G/LTE modems into a single, robust pipeline to provide a redundant connection for publishing live video.
What does this mean in terms of application? Here are 4 reasons why professionals love the Bond:
As technology gets bigger, it also gets smaller. Network bonding devices like the Teradek Bond usually sport a very small form factor, and when compared to traditional live video publishing solutions, small units offer way more portability. This makes them extremely versatile when broadcasting from the field or on major event spaces.
This doesn’t just mean saving some elbow grease and space on the rack though. Being small and portable gives it extreme flexibility for seamless integration with existing workflows, reducing setup times on live event productions and remote locations. It also makes for ideal devices on run-and-gun scenarios (ex: live news) where speed and mobility are key to getting the news out in as little time as possible.
2. Redundant Internet Connections
But let’s be honest, the most important reason content creators rely on the Bond is for its core purpose: network bonding. The Bond is designed to aggregate Ethernet, WiFi and up to 5 USB cell modems to create a single, robust pipeline for delivering video from point to point. The combination of several network connections allows broadcasters to reinforce their video by sending traffic over multiple routes, repackaging at the destination with rock-solid dependability.
This is advantageous for many applications. Content producers at large events (ex: The Vergecast Live at CES) have one hardlined Internet source to broadcast with, leaving them with a potentially unreliable uplink. With the Bond, they have several more connections to fall back on in the event of a drop, with automatic failover ensuring that the live stream runs continuously and smoothly throughout the broadcast.
But the Bond isn’t limited to event broadcasting. For smaller workflows, Bond allows content producers and ENG personnel in the field to publish reliable H.265/H.264 video straight to live platforms or studio decoder destinations. Need to send video to a studio hundreds of miles away? No problem. Bond broadcasts to Teradek’s cloud system where the video can be redistributed wherever you choose, even to multiple destinations. As long as cell signal is viable, you can stream.
3. An Affordable Solution
Nick Micozzi (live producer at Live X) recently exclaimed that “in New York City, there are unbelievably huge needs for a non-hardwired Internet solution. We stream for clients at venues all over the city, and places like the Jacob Javits Convention Center usually charge a premium just to get in-house Internet - and if you want more than 5 Mbps, the price goes up exponentially.”
When it comes to broadcasting live on location, costs for bandwidth can be thousands of dollars, making live streaming high quality video a bit of a challenge. Not only that, you have to worry about how stable the connection will be in that clutter of a venue with other users on the same line. It’s like setting up your whole system and then having to roll a dice - it might work or it might ruin your & your clients’ show.
Live producers know all about this scenario, and that’s why they choose to incorporate cellular bonding into their workflow. Compared to house-provided Internet at the venue, several bonded 4G/LTE connections could potentially save thousands of dollars. In addition, a mix of cellular carriers (U.S: AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc.) means that even if one carrier encounters connectivity issues, the failover from the other carriers would fill in to maintain the stability of the stream.
When it comes to broadcasting from the field, traditional video transport equipment like satellites and ENG trucks cost an arm and a leg to employ, not to mention you need to find personnel and time to get that equipment out to location. The Bond offers a lost-cost alternative to these situations. Starting at just $4000, it can deliver broadcast-quality video just as quick and pristine as live TV programs.
4. H.265/HEVC Ready
The next generation of video transport codecs is here and ready for action. H.265 video improves data consumption efficiency by a theoretical 50%, allowing broadcasters to save significantly more bandwidth when streaming video. This means that while 1080p video costs an average of 5 Mbps to deliver consistently using H.264, H.265 can achieve the same results at potentially 3 Mbps.
This is huge for broadcasting live video out in the field. In large event spaces where data is congested, it’s much easier to successfully deliver HEVC video thanks to the lower bandwidth requirements. At the same time, this reduces the amount of 4G/LTE data needed to stream, saving significantly more money on live streaming operations.
As live video continues to grow in modern media consumption trends, technology like cellular bonding provides a robust backbone for content creators to stream video from point to point. With video set to become 80% of online media by 2020, projected widespread adoption of HEVC video, and cellular services developing towards 5G networks in the next few years, cellular bonding is at the dawn of new media publishing strategies.