Can IP Multicast functionality be added to the JW FLV Player?
IP Multicast <http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps6552/products_ios_technology_home.html> is a technology that has been around for a while, but not a lot of people use it, yet. It is an efficient way of sending high bit rate (bandwidth intensive) streams over IP networks.
Most streams today use unicast streams. Unicast streams use a lot of server and networking resources, because each time someone wants to view a stream, a dedicated stream from the server to the user must be created and maintained throughout the entire time the stream is being watched.
IP Multicast is a method of streaming high quality streams (today, I can watch an HD stream at my desk at Penn State 24/7 coming from the University of Washington) so that the source server only sends out 1 stream, no matter how many end users are watching. It also has the capability to trim down how many streams traverse the network all the way down to the specific LAN port (or residential connection) that a viewer is connected to.
Currently, IP Multicast is not enabled on most US residential Internet connections. However, many business networks and Internationally interconnected Research and Education Networks <http://international.internet2.edu/partners/> use multicast throughout their networks. There are countries, that are ahead of the US in broadband deployment that I would not be surprised if they already have IP Multicast enabled out to the residential customers. It looks like it is a technology that could be widely adopted in the future.
Many media streaming servers and streaming viewer apps have the capability of receiving multicast streams, including Windows Media Player, Apples Quicktime, open source VideoLAN Client (VLC), and others. But, Flash Server/Player does not offer multicast capabilities, yet.
If the JW FLV Player offered Multicast capability on both the server and client side in addition to the existing Unicast we could potentially see live HD video, or at least SD quality video (what you typically see on your CATV digital tv channels) with minimal bandwidth and server costs.
A lot of times the servers from the other vendors attempt to use Multicast first and if the client cannot receive the Multicast stream, they send it out via Unicast. This would be the ideal set-up.
Please let me know if incorporating Multicast functionality is something that could be added to the JW FLV Player. Thank you!