Streamlink offers broadband boost

Streamlink uses Foundry and ND SatCom infrastructure to build an unmanned UAE facility for broadcasting broadband services to the region.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  October 26, 2004

|~|Khaled-Derbas2_m.jpg|~|“The WAN service is easier to upgrade or downgrade than cable. We can provide bandwidth on demand — if a bank wants to do a video conference one afternoon, we can do it without the customer having to invest in that bandwidth all the time.” - Khaled Derbas, general manager, Streamlink.|~|Streamlink has completed the installation of its satellite facility in the United Arab Emirates, which it has built around Foundry network kit and ND SatCom satellite technology. The unmanned facility, which is hosted by Etisalat in Sharjah, is designed to help Streamlink deliver faster broadband internet services to the Middle East. Streamlink’s solutions are aimed at home, small office home office (SOHO) and corporate users and aim to offer an alternative to similar Europe-based services. “Services from hubs in Europe or the US typically over-sell,” says Khaled Derbas, general manager, Streamlink. “The ratio of users is too high and this slows the service. For example, if they have a connection that can handle 50 customers, they put 150 customers on it. We realised we could not solve this problem with the existing hubs, so we built our own in the region,” he explains. The vendor has signed up the American army in Kuwait as one of its first customers. The army had been without good service for their in-camp internet café for six months, claims Streamlink, before deciding on Streamlink’s solution. “The advantages of Streamlink’s service are small dish, high bandwidth and low cost. It used to cost a minimum of US$17,000 in equipment on the user side, now it is US$3,000,” says Derbas. The deployment consists of a Foundry based network, with a ServerIron 450 Layer 4-7 switch implemented to provide load balancing and security for the data centre, while several EdgeIron 24 port Gigabit models provide Layer 2 and 3 switching. There is also a NetIron 400 border router, which uses border gateway protocol (BGP) to connect to Etisalat’s EMIX cable system and other internet service providers (ISPs). To connect to its users, Streamlink beams services via satellite and also routes some through the EMIX system. Streamlink uses fibre infrastructure to link to the EMIX system, and also within its mirrored Sharjah hub. This duplication of data and equipment is designed to deliver a powerful level of reducndancy. “We have a fully redundant system, with two of every product, because we aim to provide a service for ISPs and banks among others and we cannot afford to be down even for one second,” says Derbas. “We even have two fibre EMIX lines from Etisalat so if one is cut, the system will not go down,” he adds. The company uses ND SatCom’s DVB-RCS compliant SkyWAN system to deliver high speed internet to its customers. The system can be used to provide internet, video-conferencing, distance learning and wide area network (WAN) links between enterprise branch offices. “The WAN service is easier to upgrade or downgrade than cable. We can provide bandwidth on demand — if a bank wants to do a video conference one afternoon, we can do it without the customer having to invest in that bandwidth all the time,” explains Derbas. Streamlink uses a NewSkies satellite, which it claims covers the Middle East with a powerful beam that allows for a smaller dish (75cm when the minimum before was 1.2m). The service allows users to transmit at maximum speeds of 2Gbyte/s and receive at a maximum of 8Gbyte/s. As the set-up is unmanned, it is run indirectly from Streamlink’s network operations centre (NOC) in Kuwait. The two facilities are linked using Streamlink’s satellite technology with the NOC relying on SMS alerts and LEDs for information on problems at the Sharjah station, which it can counter remotely via the satellite connection.||**||

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