Mushroom Networks Announces Integration with NewTek TriCaster

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Link aggregator, channel bonding, and cellular multiplex developer Mushroom Networks has teamed up with integrated live production systems producer NewTek to offer tighter operational integration between their products.

I previously reviewed the Mushroom Networks Streamer, an off-the-shelf channel-bonding link aggregator that allows users to combine multiple internet connections—be they 3G/4G, Wi-Fi, or wired—to form a single higher capacity interface that is transparent to the applications that wish to use that link. This approach has enabled video encoding technologies to send high quality.low compression video over mobile networks on an ad-hoc basis.

While NewTek operators have been connecting their encoded output to Streamers for some time, the operation of the TriCaster and Streamer workflows have been through separate UIs. This week's announcement brings, at an operator UI level, a closer workflow integration by bringing the Streamer controls into the Tricaster UI, ensuring that oversight of the transmission link, feedback, and control of its status are presented alongside the production interfaces.

While a seemingly minor evolution, this is of critical interest: It is the first time I have seen any of the dozen or so cellmux vendors I follow really looking at OEM licensing for the bonding and cellular multiplexing capability, and while at this stage the development is limited to exposing the control and feedback APIs to the TriCaster UI, it hints at a significant and potentially disruptive change in where we will see cellmux technologies deployed in third-party encoding devices (beyond the basic smartphone apps that emerged over the past 18 months from most vendors).

Over the course of a conversation with Mushroom Networks CEO Cahit Akin, it became clear that in the next few months we are going to see the emergence of an API that allows the channel bonding routines in the Streamer to communicate to the third-party encoding routines of software such as the TriCaster's, and be able to adjust the video to optimize it for the varying network conditions that (particularly all 3G) bonded networks can suffer. That means this could emerge as an early (first?) true cellmux capability involving a partnership between an encoding technology vendor and a network bonding technology vendor, though Akin would not discuss a timeframe.

Given that there are only a few established cellmux vendors buy a much larger number of established encoding technology vendors, I would anticipate that this will be of interest to those encoding vendors, and as any such adoption takes place we could see it become the norm’for all video encoders to include tightly integrated channel bonding and link aggregation.

Of course I am running a little ahead of myself (and perhaps the market), and from the event producer's point of view today's UI integration, while technically not a mind-blowing change, is a good tactical operational change that will strongly influence both Streamer and TriCaster operators to adopt the complementary technology. Certainly if I was a regular Tricaster user i would now strongly consider Mushroom over its competitors.

That said, the really exciting stuff is what channel bonding offers to the outside broadcast engineer, and while operational efficiency is a key first step in usability, the really important evolution will be at the wire protocol level.

Cahit has ensured me that as soon as any such evolution is ready to be announced, we'll be allowed to "go deep" and bring you that insight in these pages.

However, not all of our readers are really that interested in the network protocol and application interfacing, and so for those who are more focussed on the practical task of making live video in a quick, compact and controlled way, and with minimal/portable setups, the Tricaster/Streamer announcement will certainly be of interest.

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