The team from BetterCast have launched a crowdfunding campaign to make internet connectivity more reliable.
In late 2020 I built a hybrid conference platform that focused on the needs of the production teams, building features that helped them to produce the best show they could within the limitations that they had to work with. After working with them for a while, I saw a massive bottleneck in the production workflow, and that was, regardless of the quality of the venue, so many teams had problems with reliable internet. This results in dropouts, disconnects, low-quality streaming and the end, an unhappy client that doesn’t understand the internet isn’t in your control but blames you for the output.
I started investigating what options production teams had to ensure quality internet, and what I found was that the current products on the market are aimed at enterprise offerings. With the influx in need for teams of all sizes to deliver streaming, there was a need for a lower cost device that just worked. Over the last few months, I have been piecing together parts to build my proof of concept, today I’m thrilled with the prototypes and development boxes I have built in the workshop, but this needs to go into proper production.
Let’s talk a little about the event industry.
If you’re a live streaming technician, you know that an unreliable internet connection will put an end to your event. Covid has changed the way events will run in the future, and event managers worldwide have said they will incorporate hybrid into their affairs. As an AV tech, you need the tools to keep up with the changes, and the BetterCast is the tool you need.
In a survey by the Skift group, where they spoke to over 700 event professionals, they all stated their hope that the events industry will start to look normal again by the end of 2021. The most telling takeaway from that report is that over 65% of the manager’s questions stated that they would categorically be including hybrid live streaming of their event going forward.
What is an internet bonding device?
Internet bonding joins multiple connections together to make a single reliable connection. It breaks down all the data packets that are coming into the encoder. It then sends them all out across the different connections with a unique digital marker for each of them.
Like a VPN, the data stream is sent to a central server that then re-combines the data into a single connection.
This means if you lose data packets from any one or more connections, you will never experience any loss in connection to your destination. This means that no matter how bad your internet is, you can be sure that you have a reliable connection at all times.
The proof of concept
As a born maker, I put together a mash of off the shelf components to see if I could build something that would deliver the same product that the other tools were charging thousands for.
I put a parts list together with some 4g modems, raspberry pi and other hacked components. I built a benchtop proof of concept that bonded 4 connections and provided data to a laptop. which worked ok, but its not something that you would be able to go into production with.
Why this and not one of the others on the market?
Starting out, I looked at a lot of devices on the market, and they were all north of $1000 and had large monthly subscriptions attached to them. I believe that this was because most of the devices were built before covid. They were targeted at enterprise events and companies. With more people starting to offer live streaming as a service for events, I believe that there needs to be a more affordable solution on the market.
The cost of other devices on the market can cost upwards of $1500, and then you can be stuck paying high monthly fees that can start to cost you more than you are making on a gig.
Additionally, the services all have data limits that can add up per MB fees on top of your sim data. The current device’s service was always aimed at high-end corporate clients. Still, we believe that the industry needs a lower cost option for everyone to use.
The Bettercaster is a hard-wearing rack-mounted 2RU unit that will bond together up to 4X 4G LTE sim data connections, local Wi-Fi and a local Ethernet connection. All into one single, reliable internet connection for you to your computer or hardware vision mixer/encoder.
Meaning your stream will never go down, and the show will always go on.
We have partnered with a leading software provider to power our bonding software which is sitting on top of the custom Linux distribution built by the Bettercaster team. This allows us to leverage a vast network of dedicated servers, infrastructure and teams, and ensure that we can keep all the costs savings pass on to you.
What’s in the box?
4 X slots for 4G LTE sim cards (ideal to use 4 separate mobile data suppliers).
1 X port for local Ethernet connection from the venue.
1 X Wi-Fi modem to connect to the venue or even hotpots from another device.
LCD touchscreen for connection and stream quality feedback.
Over the air software updates every time you connect the device to an internet connection.
There is an ongoing cost.
The essential monthly subscription of AUD $30 a month, however we are offering on the campaign the opportunity to get 1 year free unlimited data bonding for a huge discount!
Each unit will need to subscribe to the low monthly fee that will cover unlimited internet bonding through a high-speed local server. No matter how much or how long you stream, this will bond all the connections for quality streaming.
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