Streaming Media

STREAMING MEDIA

Broadcast Over IP, has become a household requirement. We at Nomad simplify  the concepts for you.

 Streaming

Streaming is the closest counterpart on Internet to FM broadcast. If you are doing a live broadcast on your FM based community radio, the listeners at the other end are receiving your voice almost simultaneously. They are listening as you speak. In other words they are listening on real time basis. Similarly in streaming over Internet the audio content is delivered to the listeners on a real time basis.

Unlike audio blogging, the straming content does not need to be placed on the server but can stream directly out of the publisher's desktop. Most audio stream use multicast protocol. This protocol send a single stream from the server to all the connected recipients. This protocol was developed to reduce the server/network loads resulting from duplicate data streams that occur when many recipients receive unicast content streams independently.

Use of multicast protocol means that the recipient does not have audio-on-demand facility. If a audio programme started at 12 noon and a listener joins the stream at 12.30 she would lose half an hour of programme, just like in an FM radio. Also you can not play back a content that is streaming. Though there are ways to mitigate this limitation by deploying caching servers or buffered media players.

Streaming requires a streaming server and a streaming client. Again you have a choice of hosting your own server. What you need to consider here is what kind of Internet bandwidth is available to you. Remember that a streaming server hosted at your own location would consume a lot of bandwidth and you may find it difficult to carry out your normal Internet work like checking emails or surfing a website. Also a low bandwidth will restrict the number of simultaneous listeners you can have. Needless to say lower the bandwidth lower the number of listeners. However you can increase the number of listeners on a lower bandwidth if you are willing to compromise with audio quality.

Alternatively you may consider a hosted solution. There are many companies around the world who provide hosted solution. However, practically none of them are free. They chare nominal fees for a year or month.

There are several type of streaming servers. The prominent among them are Windows Media Services, developed by Microsoft and Darwin Streaming server is developped by Apple Inc. Both these servers are proprietary and they do not come for free. ShoutCast is another streaming server developed by Nullsoft, a company that is known for its popular Winamp media player. ShoutCast is available free of cost but it is not an open source application. The Nullsoft has kept it as a proprietary solution. One of the most popular streaming server is call IceCast. The IceCast is the most versatile and is free of cost and also available in open source domain.

These server applications, mentioned in the above paragraph are to be installed a on a server. Along with that you will need a desktop software that will encode your audio and stream up to the server which in turn will stream down to the listeners.

It is noteworthy, that growing number of smart phones in the market the streaming audio has become one of the critical way of distributing content. Any mobile phone that is running Android, Blackberry, Windows or IOX can receive a stream generated by servers.

Following is the list of clients available for Icecast server. Please note this is just an indicative list. You will find many more sophisticated and versatile across various operating system. GRINS, a radio automation software promoted by Gramvaani also allows simultaneous streaming to icecast server.