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Live U

Alias Hire had been investigating the various products of mobile SIM based products for a few years prior to when we purchased our Live U (LU-400) device in 2015.

It wasn’t a product or even service that was on radar in particular but we understood the amazing possibilities it could offer from the first time we saw the options that were around at that time. Sadly, for those precise times, the UK had not even had 4G connectivity so it was a pure case of “what if?” back then.

However, Alias Hire has always looked at what’s coming around the corner in terms of related products to what we can supply, and once the adverts starring Kevin Bacon for one of the UK’s largest mobile phone operators started hitting our screens, we knew we had to have another look at what the possibilities could be. 4G offering upload speeds higher than most HD TV channels are receiving to our own televisions? ‘We’ll have some of that,’ we thought!

So why Live U for Alias Hire, as opposed to many other options that are on the market? For us, the choice came down to simply opting for the market leader. There were many options for us to choose, but Live U hold the patent for the technology and is the market leader in the UK as well as globally so in the end, the decision as to what we should opt for was already made for us. And it was a great decision as far as we’re concerned. We have hired to newsgatherers who already own Live U products in the UK and Europe and every time there is a major national event; for example, EU Referendum and General Elections, we can be sure that our Live U LU-400 will be in demand.

Though Live U developed the technology with newsgathering in mind, we have found the most consistent – and dare I say the most exciting use – has been that for live streaming. To date, Alias Hire has streamed live football matches for Tottenham Hotspur; we have streamed concerts for artists such as Melanie C and Stormzy, as well many Facebook Live and YouTube Live events for charities, conferences, cultural festivals, awards ceremonies and whole lot more besides.

IP video streaming is not just the future of live transmission, its happening right now – left, right, and centre.

The reasons are obvious of course; there’s no financial justification for a live OB and all the costs that entails if the viewer numbers are not likely to be in the millions (let’s face it, even the hundreds of thousands), but if there’s a strong, dedicated audience – which of course for football matches and high profile music events there clearly are and always will be – then why not adopt the streaming option?

Of course, I’m biased, but I can tell you that even with a vision mixer, multi cameras and the operators on top of the cost of the Live U (and the data from the SIM cards), its perfectly possible to have a full scale live event that lasts a for a few hours for around £2,000/£3,000. A traditional OB van with a satellite link on its own would be far more than that. And of course, video platforms such as Facebook Live and YouTube Live will, in almost all cases, allow the stream via their players for absolutely free.

Another reason to adopt this technology for an event is that the viewers themselves are far more accustomed to watching via digital platform than ever before. We all stream live content and we all watch live content, so the familiarity of watching via YouTube or Facebook is akin to watching BBC, ITV, Sky, etc. So for the vast majority of the views, it makes no difference how they’re watching what they want to watch as long as they are watching it.