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The Unique Demands Of Networked Video Traffic

packet-lossWhen we talk about business class video networking, we definitely don’t mean Skype and its many cousins. Of course Skype is perfectly usable, most of the time, but its also all too often flaky, drops out unexpectedly or even just refuses to work when its having a bad day. The beauty of Skype is its value for money. Its free therefore VFM = ∞. However this only goes to show that value for money is not everything. It clearly isn’t. When dealing with customers, potential or existing, talking internally within an organisation, perhaps to a room full of people, or even just delivering training videos to the consumer, the requirement begins at the statement that it just needs to work.

Lets look at the reasons why network video traffic is so different.

Networked video generally exists in two flavours. Real time and Non real time. Non real time video is usually stored on a server and is compressed. Depending on the complexity of the compression algorithm, a tradeoff between quality versus transfer speed ensures that the file is transferred at a speed which is (usually) greater than the speed at which the video is being watched. Realtime video however is a very different animal and requires very specific and different network conditions.

Consider exactly what is happening across the network. At a location somewhere on the network video is being encoded into a data stream and fed into the network. That data stream must then cross the network with minimal delay and be reconstituted so that it can be decoded and ultimately viewed on a screen. Delay is the key here although there are other major considerations. Consistent delay can be dealt with albeit is not great on a video conference. The system will buffer the necessary data in order to overcome the delay and from there things pretty much work. When the delay is inconsistent and unpredictable we then see the real challenge. In these conditions, certain parts of the data may be late because the network dropped them and a retransmit was requested. For the most part however the drop simply results in glitches in sound and picture. Artefacts on the screen as the clever video engineers like to euphemistically call them.

video-landing-cros-sell-room-com-222x157-v2-enusSo, next time you’re sitting watching someone failing miserably to conduct an interview from home over their Skype console on the national news. Consider for a moment exactly what is not present in their network connection and conversely, when you’re watching a high quality video conference consider perhaps exactly how good the network in between must be.

Its not all about the network however, important as it undoubtedly is. The quality of the equipment in use at the endpoints of networked video connections play a major part in the overall experience. To take a look at the equipment that we at Rustyice sanction, sell and support click here.

Satellite Broadband Internet for Scotland by Apogee Internet

Lets face it. Scotland is, for the most part, a relatively sparsely populated country. That is in the context of Western Europe. Away from the biggest cities and towns, its telecommunications infrastructure for the average end user is more likely to consist of a telephone line than a fancy high speed broadband connection. If a connection to the Internet is available for these areas it will probably run at a speed of less than 2 Mbps and often a connection to the internet is only available on a dial up modem connection which was so popular in the 1990’s and runs at a staggeringly slow 56 Kbps. It isnt even always necessary to leave the convenience of the town or village to experience these problems with many locations even within cities, towns or villages suffering from frustratingly slow access speeds.

As average speeds for the rest of the world have moved up, so has the average size and complexity of most websites which are usually designed on the assumption that visitors have a connection speed of at least 1Mbps. As for voice and video, these are services which can often seem a long way out of reach for the underserved rural marketplace in Scotland.

Various technologies have attempted to bridge that gap over the years since the arrival of the Internet but they have always proven to be either too costly or simply not reliable enough to make a difference. It was only recently that the promise of satellite technology was really able to deliver by providing cost effective, affordable and most importantly reliably usable services to the mass market. This is what we offer at Apogee Internet.

Our satellite broadband solutions cover Scotland as well as the rest of the UK and Ireland and indeed all of Western Europe. They provide our customers with truly high speed Internet access that can allow them to enjoy such services as catch up TV like BBC iPlayer, voice and videoconferencing services such as Skype, music and book downloads from the Apple iStore and even the thing that most of us take for granted, delay free web browsing. All of this is packaged at a very attractive price point and one which we continuously strive to ensure is the best value in the UK. In straightforward terms which our marketing department hates us using, we are the cheapest satellite internet provider in the UK.

But the cheapest satellite broadband in the UK does not mean we need to compromise on quality. All of our subscribers use the award winning Newtec Sat3Play terminal which ensures that the user experience is second to none and that the connection really squeezes the absolute best out of every ounce of precious bandwidth. Indeed we always contend that because of this equipment, our satellite broadband connections perform as good as or better than higher bandwidth (and higher cost) packages from our competitors.

On top of that, we use the best in terms of spacecraft. We have partnered with SES Astra to offer their award winning Astra2Connect service as the core of our satellite broadband packages. SES Astra are one of only a small handful of global giants in the world of satellite communications. This is the jewel in the crown of our service and one which ensures that we continue to offer the maximum possible in terms of data throughput even when atmospherics or other problems near the user on the ground would impinge on many other services.

Our equipment is easy to install and can be installed by anybody with average “do it yourself” skills if that is preferred to an installation by one of our professional installers. With easy to use tools like the Point & Play®, patent pending technology, which is included as a standard part of our customers welcome package the mystique is removed from the installation.

This tool allows the installer (be it a professional installer or the end-user) to easily position the antenna by identifying the satellite and providing instant feedback on both signal quality and lock. It can also save our customers money in the longer term enabling simple repositioning of the dish without having to call out and wait for an installation company, were the dish to be moved by a storm for example.

In summary, we at Apogee Internet offer a satellite internet service to Scotland which is unmatched in terms of quality at every level both in terms of the quality of the equipment as well as ongoing cost to our subscribers. Most of our team live and work in places just like those described above and the issues, problems and limitations which most of us at Apogee have experienced at one time or another are very close to our hearts.

We have made it a core value of our company to provide the most affordable and fastest possible service to individuals and businesses in Scotland left behind in the constantly developing Internet economy. If you would like to find out any more please visit our FAQ or contact us using our online enquiry form or perhaps even call us free in the UK on 0800 012 1090. We would love to hear from you and are happy to provide free advice to anybody experiencing difficulty getting connected to the network whether our customers or not. If you’d like to know more why not take a look at our main website which you can find here.



New Satellite Technology a Possible ‘Game Changer’ for Communications

As the interoperability discussion continues, so does the frustration of many who have worked on this issue for decades but haven’t seen their goals realized. So it makes sense to take a look into the future of what could be a bright spot.

Satellite technology has proven itself during major events but its limitations are known. During Hurricane Katrina, satellite technology allowed for some semblance of interoperability when most communications systems were down. A family of satellites first launched seven years ago by Hughes has the ability to be a “game changer,” in the words of some neutral panelists at a recent emergency management summit.

The new satellites, which Hughes calls Spaceway, offer path diversity. It doesn’t just bounce up from an antenna to the satellite and reflect down to a ground hub and connect to the Internet or a data center like the traditional satellite. The Spaceway is a router in the sky that can make multiple connections at once, enabling conference calls and video conferencing.

The Department of Defence tested the satellite’s ability in 2009, creating video teleconferencing between the U.S. Northern Command, the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Dahlgren Division and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego. The after-action report described it as “relatively quick to set up with the ability to carry on high-definition, clear and stable communications with other locations.” FEMA was scheduled to test it during winter 2011.

With the Spaceway, user groups can be built prior to an event and connect when necessary. Agencies and private-sector entities that don’t work together every day can connect quickly during a crisis when other terrestrial communications are not working.

The Spaceway satellite is more akin to a mesh network than the traditional reflector satellite, which enables it to invoke community groups. Another way of describing it is “any to any” connectivity instead of “one to one” connectivity.

Tony Bardo, assistant vice president of Government Solutions at Hughes, called it a “Plan B” network. “If the ground infrastructure is down and you are unable to put together a user group, your radios and so forth are down and you can still get connected, you can quickly invoke a community of users and managers and decision-makers that have access to this Plan B network.”

During Hurricane Katrina, circuits and Bell South towers were inoperable because they were submerged by the flooding. When the towers fell during 9/11, cables and servers went down under the rubble. “These structures on the ground that support our telecommunications are very much in harm’s way when it comes to natural disasters and attacks,” Bardo said.

With Spaceway, both the satellite and the routing capacity are 22,000 miles above earth and away from harm, unlike ground-based communication infrastructure.

“If you think about that ground hub in the old system, the ground hub is the router,” Bardo said. “The intelligence is taking place on the ground. Spaceway, with its router in the sky, can enable me to communicate with you in another field office and add another party somewhere else, and out of harm’s way. I send up your IP address, and it connects me with you. I want to connect with the data center, so I send up the IP address on the antenna of the data centre and it connects me there.”

UK Telehealth is finally coming of age.

According to new a research report, around 2.2 million patients worldwide are using a home monitoring service based on equipment with integrated connectivity at the end of 2011. The figure does not include patients that use monitoring devices connected to a PC or mobile phone. It only includes systems that rely on monitors with integrated connectivity or systems that use monitoring hubs with integrated cellular or fixed-line modems. It is forecast that the number of home monitoring systems with integrated communication capabilities will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.0 percent between 2010 and 2016 reaching 4.9 million connections globally by the end of the forecast period. The number of these devices that have integrated cellular connectivity increased from 0.42 million in 2010 to about 0.57 million in 2011, and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 34.6 percent to 2.47 million in 2016.

Some of the most common conditions being monitored today are chronic diseases including cardiac arrhythmia, sleep apnea, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These conditions cause substantial costs and reduce both life expectancy and quality of life. It is estimated that more than 200 million people in the EU and the US suffer from one or several chronic diseases where home monitoring can become a treatment option. “Home monitoring solutions that can communicate over a cellular network, landline connection or the Internet have already reached significant volumes within cardiac rhythm management, integrated telehealth solutions, sleep therapy and cardiac event monitoring”, says Lars Kurkinen, Telecom Analyst, Berg Insight. He adds that connectivity is gaining momentum in several other segments as well, such as glucose meters and medication adherence systems.

Exploiting connectivity technologies in the UK healthcare industry can lead to decreased costs, more efficient care delivery and improved sustainability of the healthcare system. New care models enabled by these technologies are also often consistent with patients’ preferences of living more healthy, active and independent lives in their own homes. Progress is being made in the adoption of wireless technology among manufacturers of medical monitoring equipment. However, there is still a long way to go before remote monitoring becomes a standard practise in the healthcare sector.

Rustyice Solutions is monitoring this sector very closely and has already made some strategic moves in respect of this field. Keep an eye on this Blog for further announcements coming soon.