Drazen Pantic on Fri, 10 Mar 2000 18:53:34 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Open Source Streaming Alliance

Open Source Streaming Alliance - Now!

Streaming on the Net has started to be almost the necessity of any
Internet savvy organization -- imperative is to send, and even better
stream, as much audio and video content as possible. The full agenda is to
send a rich multimedia content and reach the global audience, delivering a
message through a clear sound or crisp video, of course with the minimal

The distributed set of audio/video streaming servers world wide,
exchanging streams through multicast and splitting technology could
provide a public domain channel for non for profit and non wealthy
organizations and individuals a necessary channel for effective and global
streaming, without interruptions and "net congestion" errors. Idea is very
simple:  when a user requests a content from one of the servers in the
network, he/she gets redirected to the closest server relative to the
Internet bandwidth topography. So, if a user from New York wants to listen
to radio from Belgrade, he gets seamlessly connected to a server in US,
which on the other side requests a stream from server in Amsterdam, being
provided by one stream from Belgrade. In that way, multiple users from US
do not create multiple connections to the low bandwidth server behind the
infrastructural terror in Serbia. Examples are numerous, but the basic
idea is clear, generate as less redundant traffic protocol for streaming,
and enable low bandwidth environments to rely on solidarity in streaming
from the better situated sites. That will create a diversity of content,
and enable global accessibility for all voices. 

The technical part of the idea is already implemented in real Network's
Real Broadcast Network, bringing together a set of distributed RealMedia
servers and major global telco providers.  Implementation functions very
well on the pure technical level, but...it relies on the Real Media
standard, specifications and details are patented by Real Network, hence
unknown to the rest of the world. In their promo text RN states "Our
sophisticated network technology and management ensures high-quality and
reliability, allowing you to focus on what's important-your site and its
content",[1]. The meaning is that user(s)  worldwide should be relieved
from the boring questions letting The One And Only Broadcaster to deliver
their content, regardless of the method and the cost. What brings us to
the second painful point of RBN -- the cost. Without further elaboration,
I will just cite the RBN's "Special Offer" page, [2], starting with:
"Enjoy worry-free Webcasting from RBN for as little as $9,995." 

The alternative solution, at least in delivering audio content is
available and not very difficult to conceptualize. MP3 standard has
reached incredible popularity, combining the quality of sound and open
source approach. Collective intelligence of code creators worldwide, has
produced numerous tools: encoders, rippers, and streaming servers - mostly
like freeware software, available to everybody free of charge.  Moreover,
open source standard has put MP3 in a perfect position of total platform
independence; any machine that has a computer chip can play a MP3 file:
from PalmPilots to mainframes through stand alone devices. Servers are
also available, look for example [3] or [4]. 

On the infrastructural side, things look also very good. The number of non
for profit groups and individuals world-wide have established Internet
servers with significant - or more precise with sufficient bandwidth - to
create a mighty network of streaming servers. (For global distribution of
the Internet bandwidth and traffic, see [5].) 

So, there is just one step needed: the will and awareness for creation of
the flexible and global network of distributed MP3 streaming servers. The
servers might just agree to exchange streams, and establish a protocol for
redirection of users. Al elements are here, available now, and it looks
appealing to enable a guerilla radio from who_know_where to be as loud on
the Net as it could be. Doesn't it? 

[1] http://www.realnetworks.com/rbn/about.html
[2] http://www.realnetworks.com/rbn/promos.html
[3] http://icecast.org
[4] http://www.shoutcast.com
[5] http://www.internettrafficreport.com

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