In July, Verizon launched a new hotspot that makes one gigabit (125MB per second) mobile hotspot connections available in Lowertown, Saint Paul. The Verizon 5G MiFi® M1000 Hotspot retails at $650 for a two-year contract, payable at a 0% APR rate for $27 a month or a single payment of $450 (the equivalent of $20.83 a month). For local organizations and artists who have attempted to livestream events or incorporate video conferencing in events, this news opens up a host of new possibilities. The hotspot also allows for guest access, making it simple to provide Internet access at large events.
Live Streaming entered the public consciousness during the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests, when activists armed with video cameras and Internet hotspots or mobile phones with broadband connections were able to share events from on the ground in real time. I was day producer for the main team live streaming from Zuccotti Park in New York City, Global Revolution. The minimum number of streams on GR’s live broadcast at any time was around 8,000 on one Sunday morning. The maximum number I saw was during the Brooklyn Bridge Mass Arrest on October 1st, 2011, when over 23,000 streams were being served to a global audience watching the events unfold. In the end, Occupy spread to over 1,000 cities worldwide.
In the eight years since Occupy, technology and the nation’s Internet infrastructure have surged forwards in leaps and bounds, to the point where this latest Verizon offering would allow for live streaming of five Ultra High Definition streams (four times the resolution of regular HD) from a single MiFi M1000 hotspot.
With livestreams embeddable ahead of time in websites and shareable via social media buffering applications, the potential for reaching and building nonlocal audiences during events is there, and the mobility of hotspots cuts down on the need for careful venue choice and extensive pre-testing when holding events that require fast Internet access.
Things can get horribly complicated and technical problems during an event you are organizing are the last thing you want to be dealing with. I co-presented a livestreaming training workshop at the 2012 Allied Media Conference in Detroit. The conference organizers unwittingly put us in a concrete basement classroom, inoculated from the conference’s own wifi network, where even mobile phones couldn’t make or receive calls. A hotspot like the MiFi M1000 could have been placed at the top of the stairs, with an Ethernet cable running down to a router, bringing that connectivity into the room.
Having truly powerful mobile hotspots opens up a variety of artistic and activist opportunities for outdoor projection of videos and animations.With one gigabit mobile Internet now available in Lowertown, art crawls and other large public events in the neighborhood could certainly become an interesting canvas for multimedia artists, and local organizations are in a much more realistic position to bring an Internet audience into their events.
Nigel Parry is a journalist, communications professional, and musician who has lived and worked in Lowertown since 2001. His business website can be found at nigelparry.net.