Robert Cringely writes how “Neokast brings multicasting to the masses.”
Neokast [is] the brainchild of a PhD candidate from Northwestern University, Stefan Birrer. Neokast uses peer-to-peer technology to effectively emulate a multicast experience.
Neokast presently operates as a .NET application, meaning it is limited for the moment to Windows computers. The player can operate as a stand-alone application or a browser plug-in. And as far as the user is concerned, connecting to a video stream is a matter of going to a web site and clicking on a link. The viewing experience is very much like cable or broadcast TV because with Neokast you aren’t initiating a video stream, you are joining a broadcast in progress. There are clever ways to use Neokast for video-on-demand, but right now the company is emphasizing its broadcast-like features.
The way the P2P components work is simple to describe but hard to accomplish. I watched a Neokast demo from my office in Charleston and the stream began playing in about two seconds, which is close to instant-on in the world of Internet video. If there is buffering happening, as there simply must be, it isn’t a very big buffer. Had there been no peers up and running other than mine, the video would have streamed straight from the server in Chicago, but with enough peers operating, the load on the originating server is several orders of magnitude less than for typical one-stream-per-user distribution.