Mobile & portable internet for outdoor festivals

Present Communications ltd are pleased to announce another remarkable product to the hire stock, the Newsspotter service flyaway kit.  This satellite system allows us to connect to the internet from any remote location in the UK, Europe, Middle East and North Africa.  This is perfect where the airways might be congested such as large public events, festivals, regattas where mobile 3G and 4G reception can become poor and also in remote, outdoor spaces with no mobile signal at all.  This Tooway satellite systems works anywhere with a line of sight to the Europasat satellite.

More and more, customers need their content streamed live to the web and broadcast around the world and limitations such as poor internet connectivity and unreliable mobile phone signals are no longer acceptable excuses.  Using a large range of other products in our portfolio such as the PUNCH! and PresentAnywhere systems, Present Communications can truly present from anywhere; not only broadcasting to the web but also providing live, two way communications in the most remote of locations.

Of course, this isn’t just useful for providing internet at festivals, the Newsspotter uncontended satellite connection provides the ideal backup (or main connection) for those important links that just can’t go wrong.  Used in conjunction with our Teradeck Bond II, the bandwidth provided by the satellite can be load balanced with other connection such as wifi, 3G, 4G, ethernet and more.  Of course, internet connectivity is not just for streaming video (a particular favourite of ours).  Event staff as well as paying customers require internet to do their jobs.  They need it for PDQ machines, cloud based software and general communications.

And satellite is not as expensive as you might think.  Typical bandwidth costs for a satellite are about a quarter of that charged by the mobile phone operators, making satellite connectivity a truly accessible technology.  Good internet is not only a requirement in this connected age but also provides the potential for fantastic social media exposure.

Video conferencing out of the meeting room

Remote and flexible working is of course part of ones daily life now.  If we are not remote workers personally, we certainly know a few who are.  Data is accessible in the cloud and mobile phones and the Internet have made interpersonal communications easy, even from opposite sides of the World.

As the World shrinks, our workforce and our customers can be easily reached at any time and from any place.  Of course it’s not just the convenience; using the Internet rather than travel means we can reduce cost, increase efficiency and productivity whilst reducing our effect on the environment.

Many of us work with colleagues from all over the World and in different time zones.  Increasingly, we now communicate with those people via video link, whether it’s in a conference suite or from our desks using systems like Lync or Zoom. This use of video brings benefits over telephone and email.  It’s said that when we communicate, 55% of our message is expressed through body language and 38% expressed through tone of voice.

Even as a video conferencing service provider, I would still argue that there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings.  Large group meetings, presentations and workshops are still important but with teams spread from one continent to the next, it’s often not possible to get everyone in one room and that’s really where video conferencing comes in.  Large venues, hotels, conference and exhibition centres allow us to get large groups together but we often can’t get everyone in the same room.

Historically, event organisers have avoided complicated video links and streaming on the Internet and instead opted for simpler, safer options. With websites like YouTube now accounting for more than half of Internet traffic, video over the web is much safer, more reliable and resilient.  Event spaces are also realising the value of offering high quality connectivity to their clients.  We regularly run concurrent meetings on different continents, have over flow rooms on the other side of the world or join teams from different jurisdictions all together in one virtual place in order that they benefit from each others experiences.

If you want to know more about how we might be able to make this work for you, please feel free to give us a call…

Sound, Light and Video – the importance of thinking it through…

We’ve all been there.  It mostly works but it just isn’t good enough.  We’re watching TV or playing a computer game.

So imagine you’re sitting on an aeroplane, you’re watching an in-flight movie.  The quality is really bad.  It gets worse, it becomes so annoying that you have to turn it off.

Now think about that.  What was so annoying about it?

Imagine the video is all wavy and you struggle to make out the picture but the audio is fine.  Now imagine the audio is so bad you can’t hear anything but the picture is fine.  Which one are you more likely to be able to take.

When we watch a video, it’s the audio we need as much as, maybe even more than the video.  We can live with a pixelated image although we might rather it was perfect.  But bad audio will give headaches and cause us to be constantly struggling to hear.

So make sure you use a supplier who understands not just the IT aspects but also the video and audio aspects of the project.  Make sure you use Present Communications ltd.

Corporate clients require only the best equipment…

When it comes to the ultimate in connectivity and flexibility for video conferencing, there really is no substitute for Cisco’s flagship codec, the Cisco C90.

Having spent the last year trying, testing and comparing the C90 to similar products from the same and competitor brands, it has become apparent the Cisco’s product, part of the C-series, released since they bought Tandberg a few years ago has the relaxability in terms of connectivity particularly that the competitors just don’t offer and it’s these features that make is so useful in the live events industry where no two jobs are ever the same.

I can honestly say that we’ve used so many features on the unit that literally aren’t available on other devices, such as DVI input on the main video channel or even just HD-SDI inputs.  Actually clean output busses are handy as well as balanced line level in and out.

So what are we going to do about this.  Well, we just bought two more!

Video Conference service provider or AV company…?

What is the difference between an AV company who do video conferencing and a specialist video conferencing service provider??

Most AV/event production/rental houses will claim to be able to do video conferencing and indeed many of them actually own their own equipment and know mostly how to make them work.  So if I buy a Ferrari, does that make me a Lewis Hamilton?

Setting up a big sound system not only requires a knowledge of power amplifiers, system controller and mixing desks but also requires a good ear if you want it to work well.  Similarly with video conferencing, a good working knowledge of the equipment is necessary but so is a knowledge of IT and networking, phone lines, ISDN, IP, H.323, H.239, H.264, CIF, QCIF, HD, 720P, dual stream, people & content, bandwidth, firewalls, NAT, port forwarding etc etc.  The list unfortunately goes on and on.  Once you’ve got that covered, you then of course have the local connectivity side of things; VGA, HDMI, DVI, SDI, HD-SDI, Composite, Component, S-video. And then there is the audio…

You get the picture.

Present Communications is a specialist video conference provider.  We offer the finest technical support along side our equipment and in many cases offer a ‘brand-free’ service to other production companies and act seamlessly as your video conferencing team.

Firewall problems are a thing of the past – introducing PUNCH!

Firewalls, NAT, port forwarding, words that strike fear into the heart of even the most veteran video conferencing engineer.

There are many ways to set up a codec on a network.  You can allow the codec access to a public IP, NAT to the codec or use simple port forwarding if you think you’re brave enough.

Punch through the firewall

Any of these options require assistance from the in-house IT expert.  Of course that IT person should also be handy with video conferencing and understand the specific port requirements and also how H.323 work.  When you find that person, send him to me, I have a job going.

There are lots of ways that a firewall can be bypassed.  Some are much more complicated than others but mostly they require a lot of configuration.  What is really required by the industry is a way to just PUNCH! through any firewall and present the Video Codec to the outside world on a public IP address outside (and not related) to the network it’s on.
Well, we have this product and if you haven’t guessed already, it’s called PUNCH!  Each device is plugged into any network via the PUNCH! and that device is automatically configured with a public IP address on our network which will work with your Video Codec or any other device.

Don’t believe us, give us a try!

PresentAnywhere – Webcast and Video Conference from literally anywhere….

We are asked a lot about webcasting and video conferencing. Generally, people want it anywhere, at any time and they want it cheaper.

Lets take a video conference as an example.  Traditionally, there are lots of ways to facilitate this.  A connection is required from Site A to Site B.  This connection has typically been over ISDN. This is expensive for a number of reason.  Even if you disregard the fact that you need to make 8 potentially international telephone calls simultaneously, you also need to be on a site that actually has enough ISDN lines installed and configured for this kind of dedicated use.  They will be paying for these on a contract over a few years and probably not using them very much.  So very few sites actually have ISDN lines now that are configured appropriately and if they do, they’re really expensive.

That’s why, over the last few years, more and more video conferences have taken place over the internet which has become much more reliable in recent years.  The video call itself is effectively free to the end user assuming they can get a decent internet connection.  And this is still where the problem lies.

Most places have some kind of internet either wired or wifi, 3g or even 4g but generally wireless internet is not sufficient for a video conference.  Even if you can get the bandwidth, which is unlikely in the real world, it lacks the consistency and reliability.  That’s where our new technology comes in!  We’re calling it “Present Anywhere”.

“Present Anywhere” allows you to take all the different types of connections mentioned above and join them all together and make one virtual connection.  This is called ‘bonding’.  There are a couple of differences with our system though.  Other ‘bandwidth amalgamation’ software will make your internet faster but not for a single use.  So for example, whilst it might be quicker for browsing the web, it won’t make it any quicker than a single connection for something like streaming a single video or a VPN.  Bear in mind that streaming a video and downloading a video is not the same thing.  Also, some other bonding solutions require expensive hardware setups and the hire of leased lines and off site equipment and technical support.  Our does not.

Even if you can’t get fixed internet, wifi, 3g or 4g, we can still use domestic satellites which can be portable. If one isn’t enough, we’ll use 2.  And because we’re using compressed video rather than uncompressed that you would get on a satellite truck, we can get higher quality video through a smaller, cheaper satellite dish.

Basically, “Present Anywhere” allows you to present from … well … anywhere.

 

Webcast, videoconference, telepresence, teleconference or virtual event???

We have experience in many kinds of web, video and telephone conferencing. Some methods are much easier, cheaper and more reliable than others and some are obviously less so. Most people don’t really know the difference between these methods. In fact, there isn’t really a standard definition for each as everything is still developing so quickly at the moment. The current ‘trend’ is for collaboration and inter-operability between these different systems and this can work with varying degrees of success. The Internet has made these types of communication more accessible but the Internet is not always appropriate.

Some of the terms we are most familiar with include skype, gotomeeting and webex. So what are these and why are  they important? This type of communication isn’t new. MSN messenger has been offering ‘video chat’ for over 10 years and ‘voice-over-IP’ for 15 years. It is typically used for point-to-point communications on a personal computer. Webex and gotomeeting have gone one step further and allow for document sharing, instant messenging and video chat for multiple users. These work over a normal IP connection to the internet. This type of communication hasn’t really been given a name yet so most people refer to the software they’re using although it is sometimes called telecollaboration. These systems are often used for document sharing and run along side a teleconference.

Many of us are familiar with conference phones, often used in boardrooms. These are essentially speakerphones. Boardrooms are often linked together for meetings using a bridge or virtual meeting room. This is a teleconference. But we can also connect another person or a teleconference to an entire conference room. A presentation could be given over the phone or a number of people who are unable to attend could listen using their phone.

A videoconference is really an extension of the teleconference but with added video. It might be for a small meeting or it might be for a larger conference. It allows people to interact both ways and presentations can be lead from the near or far end. Content sharing is also possible using an additional screen although the same level of interactivity is not possible as the content is streamed and not shared. Videoconferencing has traditionally been done over ISDN which provides a guaranteed point to point connection but now more videoconferencing uses the internet, eliminating call charges. A bridge can also be used to link multiple sites and/or users with interaction often managed by the bridge.

One of the problems with videoconferencing is that some people believe it doesn’t make the user feel truly immersed and comfortable and so a face to face meeting is always more productive. Videoconference system designers have taken this criticism on board and now design conference rooms with telepresence built it, making it feel like your colleagues are in the room. This is achieved through intelligent camera, speaker and screen placement so that colleagues appear life size and sound ‘appears’ to be coming directly from them.

These systems are all interactive to some extent but the number of users is limited. Webcasting allows an event, seminar or presentation to be broadcast to a (potentially) unlimited number of people. Webcasts are accessed using Internet enabled computers or many Internet enabled device (ipad, iphone, blackberry etc). It is possible to stream video, audio, content (slides or otherwise) or any combination. It is often possible to customize the interface and therefore integrate some type of feedback and/or interactivity such as chat, twitter or simply email.

Virtual Events haven’t really become popular yet but some big players in the webcasting world are focusing a lot of effort on this new concept. It’s like webcasting meets second life. Whilst attending a virtual event, it is possible to walk around and network with other attendees as if in a computer game using typical Internet communication methods like chat and voip. Other attendees might host meetings or webcasts, which are accessible via the virtual event. U2 famously held the first online concert inside second life.

So, I hope that provides a quick overview to all the different technologies and I wish you luck with each of them in the future.