2 musicians, 2100 miles apart, 67 milliseconds from perfect sync

By Danna Bailey, Vice President Corporate Communications, EPB.

You gotta hear this bandwidth!

I must admit that I am a bandwidth groupie. And it isn’t every day I get to hear bandwidth. But, in October, about 4000 of us heard what bandwidth can do for musical collaboration when two musicians played a duet, in perfect harmony, 2100 miles away from each other.

It was at the finale concert for RiverRocks, a 10-day festival in Chattanooga, TN celebrating the great outdoors. Legendary musician and Grammy-winning producer T-Bone Burnett performed “The Wild Side of Life” from a studio in Los Angeles with BR549 founder Chuck Mead on stage in Chattanooga, 2100 miles apart.

The concert needed EPB Fiber Optics’ gigabit Internet connection (powered by Alcatel-Lucent’s Triple Play Service Delivery Architecture) connected to LOLA technology (LOw LAtency audio visual streaming system) to get the ball started. Then the signal was transported to the USC Thornton School of Music on an Internet2 connection through the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Were Burnett and Mead performing in exact synchrony? Engineers who live and die by absolute precision told me not to use the word “synchronous” to describe the duet. But, according to Dr. Brian Shepard of USC's Thornton School of Music, the delay was measured at 67 millisecond - yes, 67/1000 of a second, about ½ the time it takes to blink your eye. That's pretty darn close to synchronicity if you ask me.

To many in the audience, the monumental nature of the duet may have been overshadowed by the beautiful night, highly anticipated sculpture burn or craft beer. But its implications were not lost on those people involved in the music or technology fields, or bandwidth groupies like me.

What can be done when true, real-time (ok, engineers, near-real-time) collaboration is possible.  When next-generation broadband networks like EPB’s become the rule instead of the exception, and when more musicians and artists and teachers and innovators of all kinds develop technologies like LOLA?

This is the kind of question that will be answered by brilliant minds already thinking about the possibilities. The Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC, US Ignite, Mozilla Ignite and others are working to answer this question today.  In the future, with the right technology, the idea of hearing bandwidth may be no big deal. Like the idea of tasting it, feeling it, smelling it, well – you get the picture.

comments powered by Disqus