Video streaming to mobile devices in the developing world


Tuluntulu has launched its ‘world first’ mobile platform whose social impact will be substantial, both in South Africa and globally, as it will open up video streaming to mobile devices in the developing world. In addition to enabling the mobile distribution of news & entertainment content, the platform can revolutionize education, assist in breaking down the digital divide and improve the lives of many in developing countries.

There is a global need to watch video content on mobile devices. However in developing countries the mobile networks low bandwidth infrastructure make video streaming almost impossible, especially over EDGE. Tuluntulu has technology, developed by a CSIR led consortium, which provides a solution to this problem. Tuluntulu’s vision is to become the global leader in video streaming in the developing world.

International technology companies are now focusing on providing technology solutions to the developing world, as this is where growth is predicted to come from in the future. Facebook, for example, has recently announced a partnership with Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera    and Qualcomm to launch, a project aimed at bringing affordable Internet access to the 5 billion people without it. The companies will work together on data-compression technologies and cheap, high-quality smartphones to make the web cheaper. The companies intend to accomplish their goal in part by simplifying phone applications so they run more efficiently and by improving the components of phones and networks so that they transmit more data while using less battery power.

This is a hugely positive development from Tuluntulu's perspective and it places the developing world, and technology designed for the developing world, in the global spotlight. The two largest and fastest growing mobile markets globally are Asia and Africa respectively. Video consumption and Internet access globally, via online and on mobile devices, is increasing at exponential rates. YouTube now has 6 billion views per month, a quarter of which are on mobile devices. In Southern Africa YouTube aggregate views grew by 90% in the past 12 months, but this was off a very low base. The consumption of video on mobile devices using mobile networks (not Wi-Fi) in developing countries has not grown in line with these global trends as the dominant form of connection is via mobile networks. This is due to video not being suited to the low bandwidth networks that exist in developing countries.

The ARTIST technology can deliver unbroken video at +-30kbps. Current competing technologies do not perform well in low rate Internet infrastructures between 30kbps – 300kbps and, more particularly, where the throughput rate is rapidly varying within this range from one second to the next (as is common in all mobile cellular networks). Tuluntulu’s research has revealed no other company globally who claims to be able to deliver unbroken video streams at below 100kbps. These companies have technology that only work on 3G networks, often at 400kbps or more. As a result they simply do not work in most developing countries. The ARTIST technology provides a solution to this problem. As such Tuluntulu appears to hold the technology key to mobile video distribution in the developing world - a key that can be used for education, information and entertainmentcontent distribution that can have a huge social impact on the people who live in these countries.

The technology was developed by a consortium funded by TIA (Technology Innovation Agency) consisting of CSIR South Africa (, University of Cape Town and ECA that started developing the solution to the video distribution problem in 2007. The CSIR’s Dr. Keith Ferguson led the team. The solution was specialized technology known as ARTIST that allows streaming video to be viewed on mobile devices, in low bandwidth or congested environments. ARTIST utilizes patented technology to deliver unbroken standards-based live video streams with fully integrated social media interactivity. The solution covers the entire media value chain from video content ingestion to a fully adaptive and scalable service and mobile device applications. Patents have been registered in five countries / regions globally for parts of the ARTIST technology.

The key competitive features of the ARTIST platform are:
•    mIPTV: Operation on low rate mobile Internet infrastructures down to +/- 30kbps.
•    Adaptive stream: Seamless and smooth video delivery adapting to varying
throughput rates for each individual connected user without disruption (no
re-buffering, fast start up, etc.) to the viewed stream.
• Revenue: Messaging / Advertising engine built into the core of the
technology. Adverts/branding/messages are integrated into the video space (non-invasive) such that ‘URL stealing’ and syndication of content remains revenue generating.
•    Scale: Massively scalable architecture for large numbers of simultaneous viewers even with individual adapting video streaming.
• Bandwidth management: Full service provider control over user access, video channel access and total service throughput limit (deterministic cost).
•    Analytics: Full viewing and advert/messaging statistic reporting.