Upwardly mobile at The Vatican

Neal Romanek
September 21st 2016 at 12:54PM : By Neal Romanek

Mobile Viewpoint aims to raise the bar for mobile IP broadcasting from the local news desk to the Vatican. Neal Romanek talked with Mobile Viewpoint CEO Michel Bias

Mobile Viewpoint, developer of smart phone apps, backpack encoders and rack-mount solutions for IP newsgathering, is a company that has been in the right place at the right time. As mobile networks have grown in speed and capacity, the Netherlands-based company has gone from being a niche tech provider unsuitable for the big leagues to providing wireless IP solutions for the Summer Olympics and video transmission for public services and security firms.

Michel started the company, aiming to develop 3g for using live video contributions. At the time, Nokia smartphones were used and Michel developed the idea to combine mobile connections.

“We were lucky with the economic crisis,” says Mobile Viewpoint CEO Michel Bias. “The big guys were looking to save money. Before, they weren’t looking at our products. They thought they were strictly ‘low budget’. But then they started to use us for live broadcast from 2010 to 2011. It started with one local broadcaster, then grew from there.”

We’re also seeing more need for internet streaming for specific events – corporate streaming of a CEO address, for example


New demands

But will mobile networks be able to handle the demands of new technologies? 4K? High frame rates? 8k?

“There’s no upper limit,” Bias explains. “It’s already possible to transmit 4K via LTE. And in the Netherlands they have just begun to trial 5g, and more bandwidth will be available.

“People want to have smaller devices and they want higher resolutions. We’re making smaller lightweight and more power-saving transmitters. And you’re seeing interest from new sports cameras – you can now get live coverage from the Tour de France while they’re riding without needing extra technology.”

Mobile Viewpoint is also benefitting from the technological leapfrogging of some developing countries which are adopting new technologies at a higher level, avoiding the painful evolution that others have had to endure.

“We are seeing more and more sales in those regions,” notes Bias. “Pakistan is 4g, for example. And these are countries with many more people. In India every political party has its own channel, and all those channels will have live coverage. And they are not bothered about needing very high quality pictures, so using mobile networks is perfect for them.”


Widening the scope

It’s a goal of Mobile Viewpoint to widen the scope of what journalists can do. They have done some customised work for the BBC and have collaborated on an app for a local broadcaster in the south of the Netherlands. The broadcaster can send a push message if there’s something newsworthy happening, and invite normal viewers to get smart phone coverage from the scene.

“We put in a lot of effort to help the consumer and make it very easy to use – you can only shoot live if you shoot horizontal not vertical, for example. The new iPhones can make very good images, but people need to be a trained a little bit.”

Mobile Viewpoint mobile transmission technology has application outside the broadcast space too. Their job is to move video from one place to another, regardless of its end application.

“We sell a lot of stuff to Vatican TV. The Vatican has very good technology – it’s a closed network - and they are using our technology as well. We’re also working on both security and sports. In security, there is a growing need for people with cameras on their body to record and transmit video.

“And we’re also seeing more need for internet streaming for specific events – corporate streaming of a CEO address, for example. Most of the time you bump into firewall technology, but with our tech you can get around that easily.”

At this year’s NAB, the company introduced its new HEVC encoding. The company will unveil more innovations at IBC2016: “We will be showing off our new, very small device for things like drones – and a dedicated device for bicycles.”