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Streaming Over 4G with the Teradek Cube, Pt. 1: Setup

With the rise and increased penetration of 4G networks, live streaming over cellular is becoming more and more accessible. For this review, we tested the Teradek Cube encoder and Bond 4G cellular transmitter

As our gear gets smaller and our batteries more capable, untethered production becomes more and more of a reality. Until you get to live streaming, of course, in which case that Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi connection is more the norm, though not the exclusive solutions. But with the rise and increased penetration of 4G networks, live streaming over cellular is becoming more and more accessible. For this review, I tested the Teradek Cube encoder and Bond 4G cellular transmitter (Figure 1, below).

Teradek Cube

Figure 1. The Teradek Cube encoder on the bottom and Bond 4G aggregation tool up top.

Setting the Scene

By way of background, if you're considering streaming live over cellular, you have three basic options. First, you can plug a 4G modem into the USB port of a portable encoder like the Livestream Broadcaster, which delivers a single 4G connection.

Or, you can connect your H.264 encoder to a 4G "bonding device" like Mushroom Networks Streamer, which can support up to 4 cellular modems, aggregating the combined bandwidth to enable a higher quality stream than a single modem. Since you can also use modems from multiple providers, simple bonding devices also provide increased reliability should a link from one provider become congested.

The third option is an encoder/transmitter from the same company. This solution provides the aggregation and reliability features of the second option, but since the encoder/transmitter can talk to each other, the encoder can also respond to network congestion by reducing the data rate or frame rate of the encoded stream when throughput drops. The Cube/Bond combination that I tested falls into this category.

For the Bond encoder, product pricing depends upon AV connectivity and outbound transmission option, as well as whether the unit comes with an internal battery. I tested the Cube 255, which included the convenient internal Lithium-Ion battery, and supported HDMI input with on-board Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and a USB port for connecting to the Cube. The unit cost $1,990. You can check complete specs here, but at the high end the unit supports up to 1080i/60 and 1080p/30, and video scaling up to 10 Mbps.

The base Bond unit costs $2,490, which includes five USB ports for modems, plus Sputnik, which is a server component that assembles the packets from the various modems into a stream that Livestream can understand (more on that later). Or, you can create an MPEG-TS stream to use for other distribution outlets, though an additional license for the MPEG-TS capability is required. This pricing doesn't include the various 4G modems that you have to lease, of course.

Related Articles
In Part 1 of this article, we looked at how to set up a live webcast over 4G with the Teradek Cube and the Bond 4G Cellular Transmitter. Now we'll look at the results of the testing with the setup we assembled.
TeraCentral SDK provides Teradek customers with access to the Cube's live video stream, as well as low-level functions to encourage novel third-party solutions for a variety of wireless video applications
Teradek's rental program will immediately offer complete Bond packages, which include a Cube encoder, Bond unit, a managed Sputnik server, power accessories, and three 3G/4G modems with unlimited data from the customer's operators of choice