Case Study: Streaming And Learning Go Global
From Alaska to Italy, streaming video and distance learning are proving to be a match made in heaven for Amnis Systems, Inc.by Mark Fritz
"Distance learning at all levels is really turning out to be a killer app for our products," said Rich Falcone, vice president of worldwide sales and marketing for the Palo Alto, California-based firm. "Distance learning is an area in which streaming video has a clear progressive benefit to people and society. And because it shows an ROI, it is becoming a good business model, too."
Falcone cites Amnis projects in Alaska and Italy to make his case, but he says these are only two examples of many distance learning applications that his company is working on. In Alaska the value of a distance learning application is obvious--it beats mushing a dog sled 500 miles to get to a classroom. But even in populous, compact Italy, time is money and it costs less to send electrons down wires than students and teachers down highways.
The Amnis project in Italy uses a broadband IP-based network to connect six towns and several high schools. The initial distance learning network will provide multiple services including live classroom-based instructional broadcasts, video conferencing, video streaming, and data sharing. The project interconnects schools throughout the region of Padova, Italy, including the towns of Treviso, Padova East, Feltre, Rovigo and Busonera--all within a radius of 40 miles of the city of Padova.
Each distance learning site implements a separate 100 Mb/s Ethernet Local Area Network (LAN) supporting multiple video appliances and enabled for standard IP based multicast of the high quality MPEG-2 video content. The remote LAN sites are connected via high-speed radio data links (34 Mb/s Wireless IP) creating an end-to-end broadband wide area network (WAN). At each site a Cisco 3600 router is used to bridge the wireless network links with the 100Mbps LAN.
Each school and its LAN uses at least one Amnis NAC-3000 live streaming video encoder/server and four NAC-4000 streaming video decoders/receivers for each conference room connected directly to the Ethernet LAN. A maximum of four video sources are active on the network at the same time and utilize IP multicast for distribution to all sites. Future plans are to expand the network and increase the current deployment to three video conferencing centers per school.
In Alaska Amnis has been working with the University of Alaska to create a distance learning application that will use a broadband IP based network to connect multiple University sites, including the University of Washington.
The initial distance-learning network will transmit educational content from the University of Washington's Research Channel via a satellite link to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. An Amnis network attached NAC-3000 live streaming server/encoder appliance captures, compresses, and streams the video content via the satellite transport channel to an Amnis network attached NAC4000 receiver/decoder. Future plans include the addition of remote classroom support for University of Alaska locations in Anchorage and Juneau utilizing OC3 broadband wide area network links.
"We chose Amnis NACs over other solutions because of the high-quality full motion video and ease of installation," says Steve Smith, chief technology officer of the University of Alaska system. "In addition, their products are interoperable with network and video industry standards such as IP and MPEG."