Home > Articles > Networking > Wireless/High Speed/Optical

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Wireless Streaming Technologies

As discussed in more detail in Chapter 5, streaming over wireless networks is a challenge, both to achieve good reception between the transmitter and the receiver and to find the proper compression schema to support acceptable quality even when networks have limited bandwidths. Wireless networks, 2.5G and 3G, will support streaming video to mobile phones and hybrid voice-data devices. The emerging MPEG4 standard is promising to become the leading compression codec for the delivery of audio and video to portable voice-data devices. MPEG4 can handle new levels of interactivity. Best of all, it allows content creators to distribute the same piece of streaming video across all sorts of devices, running all sorts of operating systems. Video is the application that promises to ignite the wireless sector. All the hype surrounding 3G wireless service is based on the promise that high-speed data access and streaming applications will deliver a new wireless experience.

MPEG4 is expected to be the promising standard that will deliver video clips to mobile phones, PDAs, and other handheld devices, according to many analysts. This is true for both wireless devices and unconnected PDAs. Some of MPEG4's capabilities, such as the ability to create new content on a stored video image by transferring only a few bits to the device, are revolutionizing the way voice and data will be transmitted on the networks of the future.

Many companies that are developing streaming technologies today are planning ahead to support mobile devices. Their software is designed to play streaming files on cellular phones, handheld PCs, and PDAs. Most of these companies are developing their platforms with plans to use MPEG4 as a compression codec. Microsoft has used MPEG4 codecs since the release of Netshow version 2.0 (the predecessor of Windows Media technology). Windows Media uses an International Standards Organization (ISO)-compliant codec built into the Windows Media codec 7.0 and higher. This allows Windows Media Player to play back content encoded with MPEG4 codecs. RealSystem supports MPEG4 playback as well. Other companies such as PacketVideo have built their entire platforms on MPEG4 from start. The golden age of application development for handheld devices has just started. ActiveSky, Emblaze Research, Philips Digital Networks, RealNetworks, Toshiba, and others are developing systems to stream media to mobile devices. Some use proprietary algorithms that use Java applets to push content; some simply stream their content after it has been encoded with the MPEG4 codec (the traditional server-client relationship used in desktop streaming).

There is a strong relationship between the popularity of streaming media players and the characteristics of the mobile devices hosting them. Streaming media players are software applications residing on top of hardware and firmware equipment. Multimedia presentations require both audio and video functions that are not present in every mobile device. The success of any device relies on its ability to provide rich playback. A good example is the growing popularity of PocketPC devices. This operating system enables live or on-demand playback made possible by a built-in fast CPU, standard large memory bank, and a color display. These hardware functions are not yet present in Palm operating systems or in mobile phones. As a result, although Palm devices are more popular than PocketPC, they still cannot function as a display for multimedia content.

Palm, Inc., has been a pioneer in the field of mobile and wireless Internet solutions and a leading provider of handheld computers, but according to International Data Corporation (IDC) it is losing market share to PDAs running Microsoft's PocketPC and Windows CE operating systems. Based on the Palm OS(R) platform, Palm's handheld solutions allow people to carry and access their most critical information wherever they go. Palm handhelds address the needs of individuals, enterprises, and educational institutions through thousands of application solutions.

Palm is the most popular mobile operating system used by consumers worldwide (according to Palm sources, the operating system reaches over 75% of personal companion devices), but Palm Pilot has always been considered an organizer, not a small computer. In contrast, PocketPC has both the name and the functionality of a big computer, providing a computer-like experience for people on the move. Handspring (the company that introduced enhanced functionality into Palm devices) was the first to reveal a palm device with a color display and additional memory. Until Palm devices offer audio cards and extensive built-in memory, they will fall behind in the race with PocketPC.

When I had finished writing this book, I asked Palm representatives about any plans to release faster processors, a built-in audio card, and additional memory. The reply from Palm's official public relations firm was that Palm does not disclose its plans for future products and has not said anything specific about its future ability to display streaming content. Palm has over 70,000 developers, who are constantly working on new and innovative programs. I guess we will have to wait to see if Palm has plans to compete with PocketPC. Conflicting reports in early 2001 indicated that Palm was moving away from its identity as a handheld-computer maker and toward becoming a provider of backend enterprise systems for supporting all kinds of handhelds—including those of its rivals, PocketPC, Symbian, and Research In Motion. This was the message sent by Palm's acquisition of enterprise-focused Extended Systems, which sells middleware that connects enterprise applications with handheld devices, to make it simple for companies to manage their employees' handhelds just as they do their PCs.

One of the leading companies to introduce media playback on the Palm operating systems is ActiveSky. ActiveSky introduced an interactive media platform designed from the ground up for mobile Palm wireless users. It included authoring tools to encode media files, a server to host and stream content, and a player. The ActiveSky platform enabled additional functionality that displayed rich content through its player. Such content included interactive entertainment channels (furnished by ActiveSky's content partners), real-time data-driven applications (e.g., scores, stocks, and weather), games, multimedia messaging, and profile-based interactive advertising. Since its launch in Australia in 1999, ActiveSky has enjoyed strong sustained growth through its commitment to innovation and quality, intensive research and development, and diligent customer focus, and due to a highly talented team. ActiveSky software is available for an extensive client base across the mobile media industry throughout the world. Among the supported platforms are Windows CE, PocketPC 2002, Palm operating system, Handspring Visor Prism and Platinum, EPOC Psion, and cellular phones. In late 2001, ActiveSky changed its business model and start targeting Telco companies, offering them a server-player solution that would stream not only video or audio, but also rich animation combined with push data. Considering the slow development of 2.5G and 3G networks in North America, such an approach might not be so bad.

Microsoft and PacketVideo offer applications that have been tested and are used today on wireless networks. Other companies may close the gap in the months or years to come, but their products are not yet popular or widely available to the public. To understand how media are streamed to mobile devices, let us discuss the technologies developed by PacketVideo, RealNetworks, and Microsoft that enable content to stream over wireless networks in North America. These technologies can deliver live streaming media in real time (i.e., direct streaming, not downloadable files) to PocketPC devices and selected mobile phones.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020