When you’re planning an STL, you have many options to consider these days, including 5G, fiber and Starlink satellite. As we wrote in our latest ebook, however, Alex Hartman has a few words of caution.
“They’re offering a much more diverse selection of pathing between the studio and transmitter sites,” he said.
“Importantly, though, they also put you in the hands of third parties — big cellular companies in particular — and at their whims of moving things around or causing unknown outages.”
Hartman, a partner in Optimized Media Group, has done a great deal of STL work. He talked with me for our latest ebook, in which we discussed the many new types of “pipes” available.
“In many cases in rural areas, the towers are all linked by other backhaul means to the primary point-of-presence tower, where the large-capacity fiber lines are,” he said. “So the diversity on the towers is actually not as diverse as one thinks. These towers can be 40 miles apart, end to end, all using the same fiber connection at the point-of-presence tower via licensed or unlicensed links to adjacent towers.”
With fiber, as with telcos, you’re at the vendor’s whim and at risk from outages, upgrades and changes, Hartman said.
“Starlink is the newest player to the game, which literally opens up a whole new world of connectivity. Keep in mind that it’s still growing and comes with those growing pains. But having low-latency high-speed data to mountaintops or very remote locations opens new possibilities,” he said.
“Putting Starlink on BOTH sides of the link — at the studio and the transmitter site — is in essence a private network. It’s using only the Starlink network, it never touches the ground-based public internet!”
Eventually, he said, Starlink will be another large-scale network — a global network — overlaid on the traditional ground-based system, with points-of-presence to get back to the ground. “But if you go terminal to terminal, you never need the wireline carrier part of the system!”
Again, though, there’s a third party involved, so you’re still at their whim. “And right now it uses CG-NAT, or Carrier Grade Network Address Translation, meaning that the IP space used cannot have ports opened, VPN hosts, etc. It does need an intermediary service to make IP connections. It was designed for consumption, not hosting.”
Learn more from Alex Hartman and a half-dozen other STL veterans in the free ebook “STLs in the 21st Century.”