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.

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.

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.

The Importance of Internet…

The world has changed in the last 20 years.  Think about this… What is the first thing you do when you wake up?  And what is the last thing you do before you go to bed?  For me, when I wake, I turn off the alarm that is on my phone and I check to see if I have any messages.  Before I go to bed, same thing.

We are connected to our friends and colleagues in a way that we could never have imagined 20 years ago.  We expect to be able to contact everybody at any time, whether it’s by phone, text, email or instant messaging.  All of these methods of communication now use the Internet.

Approximately 30% of the planet’s population using the Internet.  To put that in perspective, around 8% of the population have money in the bank.  The Internet is connecting the World and bringing information and knowledge to every corner of the Earth (almost).  There are now 300,000,000,000 emails are sent every day.

So what about us?  I’m going to talk about conferences and meetings because that’s what I know.  If I’m in a conference or in a meeting, I need to know that people can contact me.  I might have to join a last minute conference call or send some urgent documentation to a colleague.  So why is it that hotels and conference centres don’t provide me (a paying customer) with free wifi?  Well, many of them do.

Even governments and councils recognise the importance of internet.  O2 provided free wifi in London during the Olympics and Virgin have been trialling free wifi on the London Underground.

ABPCO (Association of British Professional Conference Organisers) have a campaign called ‘The Conference Cloud’.  I am a massive supporter and I think more venues should sign up and adhere to the rules.  It’s easy and cheap to make sure your guests can do their work when they’re on your site.  That’s what 15 Hatfields Conference Centre have done by recently upgrading their wifi and their ‘pipeline’ to ensure everybody gets a very decent connection.  I know it’s good, we installed it and guests love it!