Interview: Kevin Leach, In:Quality - remote broadcasting

Saturday 23 November, 2013
Kevin Leach - In:Quality<br />Photo (c) Andrew Stuart/Radio Academy UK

For years, radio networks have relied on ISDN or phone lines for remote broadcasts or to interview guests in non-studio locations.

Recently, Skype has made interviews possible over broadband to a reasonable audio quality.

But now the UK-based In:Quality has designed a way to deliver outside broadcasts, live reports and interviews by real-time audio streaming through a web browser.

IP-DTL offers broadcast quality connections.

The founder recently won the Radio Academy Technical Innovation award at the annual UK Radio Festival.

Asia Radio Today caught up with Kevin Leach, the man behind IP-DTL.

What made you come up with the idea for this product?

I've been working in the radio industry for almost 20 years and much of that time has been as a Studio Manager, which is the sound engineering job for stations like the BBC World Service and domestic networks Radio 5LIVE or Radio 4.

An awful lot of time and effort is spent trying to get guests into studios or booking facilities - like an outside broadcast (OB) vehicle - which can travel to the guest. That's expensive, time consuming and not particularly efficient, so I spotted a gap in the market to create a product which made that job much easier.

How is IP-DTL different from using Skype for interviews?

In recent years, Skype has become part of the tool kit for radio producers to conduct interviews, with varying results. It isn't designed for broadcast, it's for friends and family or video conferencing.

Cleverly they've designed it so you don't have to use headphones. But in order to achieve that, they've built in technology to prevent feedback when you use speakers at each end.  For radio, that actually degrades the quality.

We've stripped that feature out of IP-DTL.  We've utilised a wide-band low delay codec called Opus and we've made it more user friendly.

What kind of market do you see for the service and how come nobody has done it before?

Initially, my company InQuality was set up to serve UK network radio stations and we also include high definition web cameras when required, so we can also serve TV news channels like BBC and Sky News.

But in doing so, we saw the massive potential for all radio stations - from the smallest community station to the largest international broadcaster - to use our software.

IP-DTL utilises the realtime communications framework that is built into the Chrome web browser, amongst others and that's a recent development so it wasn't really possible before now.

IP-DTL is free at the moment. When will you start charging?

I saw the easiest way to get IP-DTL into the market, to fully test it, get people talking about it and make sure it works, was to offer it for free intially.

There are already premium upgrades available which range from US$50 for registered charities to $3,000 for a national station, which would give you ten studio logins and 100 remote logins. That is a fraction of the cost of a software or hardware equivalent.

How many simultaneous conversations can you software cope with?

The beauty of IP-DTL is that is runs peer-to-peer, the data runs from my computer to your computer directly across the internet, with no server in between.  We can also deploy our server in the cloud, if necessary, which can relay the data.

We can have an infinite number of peer to peer connections and our relay server is scalable and that's why it is a paid-for upgrade.

You can find out more at http://www.inqualitymedia.com/ipdtl.

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