Brash statement to be Webcast

Heads up IT managers - the Governor of the Reserve Bank is going bleeding edge. Don Brash's next Monetary Policy Statement news conference is to be Webcast. But there are a few things corporate IT staff need to know for the boss to watch.

Heads up IT managers - the Governor of the Reserve Bank is going bleeding edge.

Don Brash's Monetary Policy Statement news conference at 9.05am on November 17 is to be broadcast from the Reserve Bank's Website. There are a few things corporate IT staff will need to know if the boss wants to watch.

The news conference will be broadcast live using QuickTime 4 streaming. The first requirement to receive it will, of course, be a copy of Apple QuickTime 4 client software. But QuickTime 4's use of the RTP and RTSP Internet standards is likely to present some additional challenges for users behind firewalls and older routers.

Firewalls will need to be configured to let through RTP and RTSP data and router firmware may need to be brought up to date to recognise the protocols. Apple also provides a proxy in source code form for organisations that use application-specific proxies to pass data through a firewall.

Apple has a support page for firewall users at: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/resources/qt4/us/proxy/proxy.html

Paul Jackman, the Reserve Bank's corporate affairs spokesman, says the bank has mounted the initiative in the hope that "financial market participants will be able to hear Don Brash's press conference live and in its entirety, rather than relying on any intermediate process, such as news reports, and that that will help them make their judgements as to the full significance of what he's saying and what the Reserve Bank has announced."

But he also cautions that the first broadcast should be regarded as experimental.

"Financial market participants should not rely on it as their primary source of information, as we cannot guarantee its reliability and the technology and processes are new and fragile. That aside, if this innovation works, it may become a regular part of the Reserve Bank's communications activities, especially as the technology improves."

Alan Honey, who is handling the video elements of the broadcast, says the choice of QuickTime 4 was partly a financial one.

"There are three technologies available - QuickTime, Real or Microsoft Media Player. Media Player wasn't really a starter on grounds of quality and the fact that it's proprietary. Real's also proprietary, but it's a little bit more open - it's a free client and free server but a hideously expensive replication server.

"QuickTime at least matches the quality of Real and it's given away free. The Sorenson software I'm using with it only cost another $US200."

Apple distributor Renaissance and Silicon Graphics are also involved with the project. An SGI server will power the broadcast.

Wellington network operator CityLink will help bring the Webcast to the world. Although the video feed will be hosted on the bank's in-house server, it will travel from there via a temporary 100Mbit connection to CityLink's distributed Internet exchange, which serves 15 major ISPs.

Honey says that with the data rate to be squeezed down to around 33Kbit/s, he's making no promises about quality.

"The lower the data rate, the more people we can get on. It's part of the experiment - to see what quality people find acceptable."

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