Open Student Television Network
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|Type||Internet Protocol (IP) television network (IPTV)|
|Availability||United States, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom|
by CampusEAI Consortium
|Arun Kumar, CEO|
|February 28, 2005|
OSTN was founded in the fall of 2004 and launched its high-bitrate IPTV stream on February 28, 2005.
The OSTN is an initiative of the CampusEAI Consortium, an international university consortium that includes institutions such as McGill University, The University of Exeter, Washington State University, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, and Foothill–De Anza Community College District.
OSTN is an early adopter of IPTV video distribution systems, and delivers its program streams to affiliates via the Internet2 data network, in contrast to traditional broadcast television satellite or fibre-optic distribution methods. The use of Internet2 and similar high speed data networks allows OSTN to deliver broadcast-quality video to its member schools without the use of dedicated transmission equipment. OSTN's IPTV distribution system allows viewers to see OSTN on both traditional television sets, as the network is often available on a college's campus cable television system, as well as via their computers, via a cross-platform video player with a common interface on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux/Unix systems.
In addition to its IPTV over Internet2 broadcast streams, OSTN is available as a featured channel on the Joost platform, allowing OSTN content to be viewed outside of the college campus for the first time. OSTN content is also featured on MyspaceTV, and OSTN News content is available via the Associated Press worldwide network of online video distribution.
History of OSTN
In the fall of 2004, a group of student television station General Managers and senior managers met in Cleveland, Ohio, to discuss the a problem facing student television stations: attempting to program and manage a 24/7 television schedule on a limited budget and with limited production resources. Assisted by technology staff from Case Western Reserve University, the students reached a consensus on the need for a national student television network, in order to facilitate sharing and distribution of student content on a worldwide basis. Students representing three television stations were present at this initial meeting: Ohio State's Buckeye TV, Carnegie Mellon University, and Case Western Reserve University's IgniteTV, in addition to several members of Case Western Reserve and CampusEAI staff.
From this initial meeting, the need for and interest in a national television network for students was realized, and plans were put into action to make such a network possible. In order to facilitate continuity of network operations from to year, the decision was made to invest in central network management, who would be guided in their decision makings on the long-term direction of the network by student steering committees as well as a faculty/staff advisory committee. To provide distribution to the broadest audience while keeping central operating costs down, an IPTV-based playout and distribution system was implemented.
Over the next several years, member schools were signed on to carry the network on both campus cable systems as well as via IPTV deployments on college and university web pages. In the fall of 2007 an enterprise-level broadcast scheduling solution was implemented, allowing OSTN to schedule particular shows and series for the first time.
OSTN utilizes a non-traditional method of content and signal distribution, the Internet2 high speed academic network. Whereas a traditional television network sends its programming to affiliates via satellite feeds, OSTN uses a high bandwidth connection via the Internet2 network to directly feed affiliates via standard LAN/WAN connections. Rather than require student television affiliates to purchase and maintain costly microwave, satellite, or dedicated fibre-optic transmission equipment, OSTN allows student stations and member institutions to receive the OSTN channel via existing high-speed IP-based network equipment.
The OSTN stream was initially a 1.6 megabit Windows Media stream, available live 24/7 over Internet2 to all member institutions. Windows Media encoding permitted a true NTSC quality stream of video to be transmitted at a relatively low bitrate. However, the WMV version of OSTN suffered from reliability issues, and was replaced in the fall of 2007 by a highly robust, scalable, and enterprise-grade IPTV distribution system. The current iteration of OSTN is a 2.0-4.0 MPEG-2 program stream, available via the Internet2 network. OSTN's new distribution system will allow the network to eventually offer itself as a 1.5-2.0 megabit H.264 program stream, and will be scalable to future implementations of an OSTN HD offering.
OSTN is delivered to consumers via two methods: over IP to the desktop computer via a web port and via traditional "legacy" CATV systems. When injected onto a legacy CATV system or onto a student television channel, OSTN utilizes a set top box converter device outputting analog NTSC or component video, which is then either mixed with local student TV programming (a network-affiliate model, such as Buckeye TV) or directly inserted onto the CATV line-up as its own separate channel.