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MediaStar IP Re-Caster (799)

Streaming - Distribution

The MediaStar IP Re-Caster was designed for organisations looking to stream content across one network traversing multiple locations.

Traditionally this has presented challenges. The underlying enabling technology for IPTV streaming is Multicast, a common mechanism for sending data to many users over a network as a single transmission. However, wide area networks often do not permit or enable the transmission of Multicast UDP packets, and this can interfere with the implementation of streaming systems.

The alternative is Unicast, which by comparison stacks transmission and bandwidth usage and sends data on request to individual devices. Many systems use this method, but it places immense pressure on bandwidth and multiple servers in different locations if it is to be effective.

The obvious solution to this is a mechanism to convert Multicast to Unicast. This would have many advantages from assisting with the topology of corporate networks and reducing the involvement of global networking teams, through to more efficiently transporting data across the network and saving on the capital cost of servers.

A gateway solution for multicast/unicast stream conversion, the MediaStar IP Re-Caster meets this requirement. The Re-Caster blade device can simultaneously transfer up to 25 SD or 15 HD TV channels across an internet connection, or up to 70 SD or 35 HD channels across a corporate VPN. A single blade can transfer TV channels to multiple sites.

MediaStar IP Re-Caster fits into our MediaStar chassis enclosures.  A complete remote site IP headend can be provided with just a single IP Re-Caster (799) in a single blade chassis, subject to the number of TV channels required.

The Re-Caster takes source-specific Multicast streams and converts them to Unicast streams for transition across a VPN. When the Unicast stream reaches the Re-Caster on the remote side of the VPN link, regardless of where in the world this might be, it converts it back to a Multicast stream for LAN transmission to set-tops and PC/MAC clients which then show the content.

Initial configuration and stream set-up can be carried out using a laptop or tablet with the built-in web server or by using the front panel buttons and LCD status display.

The blade device is simple and straightforward for customers to manage and removes unnecessary hardware components and complexity, which brings down costs. Its low power consumption design also makes it suitable for both large scale distributed applications as well as simple single-site deployments.

Why is this important?
The MediaStar IP Re-Caster is cost and power-efficient, but what really makes this solution stand out is that it is based on the SRT protocol that supports re-transmission of lost packets and re-ordering which overcomes UDP packet loss.  

The SRT Alliance is an open source initiative dedicated to the Secure Reliable Transport of high quality, low latency video streaming over the Internet. It is a standard that is now supported by Microsoft and Wowza. Adhering to SRT also means that the solution provides more efficient compression of H264 video streams.

The MediaStar IP Re-Caster meets all SRT criteria ensuring that it will optimise streaming performance regardless of how unreliable, unpredictable or extensive the network is.

This is the first time that a MediaStar solution has been able to offer live streaming over the public network, and no other single solution on the market currently can deliver this combination of features and benefits.

How do customers benefit?
Companies are looking for solutions that meet strict budgets, that are demonstrably power efficient and which guarantee low latency performance 24/7 regardless of the size of their network, or the number of locations at which content is being delivered.

We used these three core criteria – cost, power-efficiency and latency – at every stage in the design and development of the MediaStar IP Re-Caster to bring to market a solution that breaks new ground when it comes to content streaming.

Cost – Previous solutions tended to be PC-based, complex, or involved the use of transcoders. In every case this introduced additional costs for the customer. The Re-Caster, by comparison is fit-for-purpose or, where required, easy to add to existing technology.

Power-efficiency – The transcoders traditionally used to convert Multicast to Unicast and vice versa can be very power-hungry and to meet the requirement to dissipate power and ensure environmental compliance, our solution is highly power-efficient.

Packet-loss – Existing methods of conversion involved a small overhead in latency terms of sub-2 seconds, which was increasingly unacceptable, and on slower or less QoS networks, provided potential for UDP packet loss. The Re-Caster has been designed to deliver high quality, low latency video streaming over the Internet, regardless of the network environment.

A range of customers from those with large scale distributed applications to those with simple single-site deployments are benefiting from the reliability and scalability provided by the Re-Caster. They are realising cost savings not only on capital outlay but on ongoing maintenance which has shortened the time to ROI significantly. Most importantly they report glitch-free consistently high-quality streaming performance.