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Tutorial: Vislink LiveGear Airstream Cellular iNG Transmitter

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This tutorial was sponsored by Vislink and produced by Streaming Media in conjunction with Jan Ozer and Streaming Learning Center for the Streaming Media Cellular Newsgathering Field Guide.

Transmitting video via 3G, 4G and LTE cellular connections opens new opportunities for organizations engaged in mobile Internet News Gathering (iNG), or those who want to broadcast video from sporting events, remote meetings or anyplace where Ethernet and Wi-Fi are not accessible.

If you're in the market for a portable video encoder/transmitter, you should consider the LiveGear Airstream from Vislink, who's been in the broadcast business for over 50 years. The product is mobile, easy to use and employs predictive forward error correction and adaptive bitrate H.264 encoding to reliably deliver top quality video over broadband cellular networks.

In this tutorial, I'll introduce you to the Airstream system and show you how it is used to broadcast live video anytime, anywhere.

Hardware Tour

The Airstream is an integrated H.264 video encoder and broadband cellular transmitter, which you operate via a touchscreen panel (Figure 1, below), making it totally self-contained, and easy to use and transport. 

Vislink Airstream Touchscreen

Figure 1. The Airstream touchscreen 

In the current version, you can install up to four internal 3G, 4G or LTE modems via SIM cards (Figure 2, below), so there are no external dongles to carry and manage. The fifth modem is a control modem that can be used to create a virtual private network. Each transmission modem is connected to its own broadband antenna that is neatly stowed behind the AirStream's front panel. This antenna is for the control modem.

Vislink Airstream

Figure 2. The Airstream's right-side panel

You can mix and match SIM cards from different cellular providers to ensure that you get a reliable signal, and the unit will bond all modem connections together delivering the maximum bandwidth possible.

The unit also features an HD/SD-SDI video input with embedded audio input. A separate analog audio input is also available.

On the left panel are an Ethernet port and an SD memory card for local storage (Figure 3, below) that will be available for use with version 1.03.

Vislink Airstream

Figure 3. The Airstream's left-side panel. Note that called-out features will be available for use in a future firmware upgrade.

On the back is room for two industry-standard IDX Lithium-ion batteries (Figure 4, below), which deliver up to 6 hours of broadcasting. They're hot-swappable, so if you need extra time without disrupting your transmission, just bring extra batteries. 

Vislink Airstream

Figure 4. Hot-swappable Li-ion batteries on the back.

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