Proving the concept of delivering internet content over the air

Part of any tech startup journey is proving that the technology works. And, in the case of a company like Blockcast, that's proving it works at scale.

One of the core tenants of our platform is using existing over-the-air broadcast network capacity, like ATSC 3, cellular (feMBMS), satellite, or DVB, to deliver internet content. By leveraging multicast to push this content from origin (which could be with a content provider or a CDN) to the broadcaster network, we can save our customers significantly on delivery costs. The broadcaster can then deliver the cached content to users through a datacasting channel. Of course, those users need a capable receiver, which could be an ATSC 3 chipped TV or home gateway, or a router with an feMBMS radio, but the path and process is clear: sending internet content over the air in an economical and efficient manner. Our assumption of the cost savings was built on a basic premise: that the use of brute force to horizontally scale unicast delivery has reached its limits. This is especially relevant in markets like Asia, Africa, or Latin America where OTT is trying to expand. But even in mature markets like the U.S. or Europe, most service providers simply don't have the capacity to deliver big live events, like the Super Bowl or the World Cup, in 4K.

To validate that premise, though, we conducted a study comparing the cost of multicast enhanced CDN vs traditional CDN services. Assuming a 50% forward error correction (FEC) overhead, delivering a year of content catalog assets and refreshes to cache-fill 1000 sites in a traditional CDN architecture would cost USD$510K while it would only cost USD$10.7K via a hybrid multicast CDN Architecture. The savings percentage increases with the number of receiver sites and can reach up to 95%.

While providing some validation of the value of what we were building, that study and our assumptions still didn't tackle the technology side of it. To do that, we needed to test in a real-world environment with actual content and viewers. Thankfully, we found a willing partner in picoNETS, a startup CDN focusing on deep-edge caching. Sure, we ran our own lab-based tests to see that we could successfully move content over-the-air using broadcaster delivery channels (our Multicast Adaptive HTTP Proxy, or MAHP, which is at the heart of our technological approach, can proxy any web origin over multicast without changes to client applications), but a real-world environment provides the ability to test at scale as well as work across a variety of different use cases. You can't build for the majority of use cases until you've seen them happen in the real-world.

The partnership with picoNETS, though, won't demonstrate the entire scope of our technology. We will need to build our Blockbox devices and software as well as implement our tokenomics, but the core premise of Blockcast, a next-generation content delivery network leveraging broadcast-TV proven one-to-many delivery distribution for incredible cost savings and improved use of network bandwidth, is wrapped up in the MAHP. That's what our picoNETS partnership will demonstrate at scale. We will be able to "broadcast" internet content from one MAHP to a picoNETS deep-edge cache (that has our MAHP innovations built in) over-the-air. Once the picoNETS deep edge-cache receives the content, it can be delivered through the usual internet channels. But the OTA broadcast to OTA reception via multicast demonstrates the cost savings while the real-world deployment shows the scalability.

We are at an exciting inflection point for the company. We know the technology works. Seeing it in action with real content and real users will just put the exclamation point on the technology. With that, we will have all the momentum we need to establish other partnerships, for more real-world testing, build out the end-user devices and web3 incentives, and create the capacity marketplace to truly revolutionize how internet content is delivered.

Get great content updates from our team to your inbox.

Join 86,000 subscribers. GDPR and CCPA compliant.