Blog Post

Tooway Live Video Streaming

November 9, 2011

 (Kelvin Brown)

I’ve been in Athens for most of the past week, working as a producer and cameraman with the BBC’s new Athens correspondent, Mark Lowen. We have been covering the fallout from the economic crisis in Greece which has forced the Prime Minister, George Papandreou, to step down.
It’s my first deployment covering a story where I have been part of a large BBC news team. It has been fascinating to be involved and to see what can be achieved when you have a lot of resources.
During my deployment, the BBC has also been trying out some new gear to broadcast live from Athens and to feed material back to London. The days of hiring a sat truck or a flyaway satellite dish for big stories, is largely gone due to cost constraints. Technological advances have also introduced more practical alternatives via the internet.
Like many other broadcasters, the BBC relies a lot on using Inmarsat’s bgans out in the field. These small and portable satellite dishes are the size of a laptop and are very easy to set up. It allows journalists to cover stories anywhere in the world by providing access to the internet via the Inmarsat satellite network. Bgans have been used to great effect in Libya during the country’s recent revolution. On the night that Tripoli fell, Sky News used one of these to stream live pictures of the event to its viewers. But bgans can be very expensive to use as Inmarsat charges every time you connect to its satellite network. The price is based on the bandwidth and duration of the connection. Bgans are also not up to the task in places where broadcasters need to set up a temporary bureau to cover a story as the strength of the connection varies greatly, and is not strong enough for more than one user at a time.
Late last year Europe’s leading satellite operator, Eutelsat, launched KA-SAT, a high-capacity multi-beam satellite aimed at providing affordable high-speed internet access for people in remote areas with no internet services. The price and quality is similar to terrestrial broadband offers like ADSL-2 and cable. All you need is a satellite dish and a modem.
The service is marketed under the Tooway brandname. It is largely aimed at consumers and small businesses, but it has begun to grab the attention of broadcasters like CNN, Sky and the BBC. The connection is strong enough to offer high quality video steaming and to allow multiple users to access the internet at once. It is also a lot cheaper than a bgan as Eutelsat charges a fixed fee for the service. But Tooway has some practical disadvantages compared to a bgan. The dish is not very portable and coverage is limited to Europe and the Mediterranean basin. However, you can set up dishes in multiple locations and leave them there. When a crew needs to use a dish all they will have to bring along is a small Tooway decoder. Below is a photo of the dish and decoder that you need to operate the service.

 (Kelvin Brown)

 (Kelvin Brown)

Tooway can prove very useful for broadcasters in places like Athens. Up until recently, the BBC worked out of a local hotel using the room’s internet service or a bgan for live broadcasts and to file material back to London.
During our coverage of the confidence vote against Papandreou, we relied on a Tooway dish and modem instead. When the news broke, we were able to run two TV live positions and a radio live position simultaneously. With technological advances like these, the day is fast approaching when broadcasters will be able to offer high quality video streaming from anywhere in the world without breaking the bank.

One Response to “Tooway Live Video Streaming”

  1. Essam Khalil says:

    Dear Kelvin,
    I read your post, and I like your neutral opinion bout the TOOWAY. We are a TOOWAY reseller and we are operate in North Africa regions. We’ve tested the TOOWAY upload for video broadcasting on package 4Mbps Download/4Mbps Upload and we really were amazed with the performance of the system and the clarity of the picture even when we tried the Full HD picture, the results were excellent and voice/video delay was almost not there, we were able to upload continuously for 25 minutes on 3.7Mbps !
    I personally think it is amazing, especially that Skylogic informed us that there is a new product called per-scheduled SNG system based on the TOOWAY service that enable you to order a high-speed upload for your broadcasting and pay only for the period used and you get a fully dedicated high-speed upload for really a cheap price not comparable with any thing in the market like the BGAN for example.
    Moreover, Yahsat (a New UAE satellite) will be launched next Feb. 2012 and will provide a very powerful and wide coverage of Ka-Band service with almost same features of the Ka-Sat over MENA, and this will give this industry a really big push to move forward to higher video quality.

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