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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee is part of an international research project that could lead to a low-cost way to transmit high-quality video on the Internet.

The work by UT, the University of California–Berkeley, and SURFnet, the Netherlands’ national computer network, could greatly reduce the cost of using the high-quality MotionJPEG video format to stream live TV broadcasts on the Internet.

Chris Hodge of UT’s Office for Research and Information Technology said M-JPEG offers high resolution and good definition of detail, but requires very high data rates, such as 16 megabits-per-second.

Those high data rates are available over Internet 2, a non-profit consortium of more than 170 U.S. universities that includes UT, Hodge said.

“We are currently streaming at 16 megabits-per-second over Internet 2 and the result is near-TV picture clarity,” Hodge said.

“We have just begun tests that use M-JPEG for two-way videoconferencing with the Netherlands. The jerkiness that most people experience with Internet-based videoconferencing, which is caused by buffering and packet loss, is almost non-existent using M-JPEG.”

Hodge said high-quality video has been streamed between the United States and Europe before now, but it requires very expensive hardware, costing up to $50,000.

The system being tested at UT costs about $2,000 at each end, and includes standard desktop PCs operating Linux, a freely available operating system, he said.

Additional software is being developed by UC-Berkeley and SURFnet to stream the data over the Internet and match U.S. and European video formats, he said.

The tests are being done through SunSITE@UTK, a project sponsored by Sun Microsystems which develops new technologies for deployment at UT.

Hodge said further testing would determine the technology’s viability for applications such as distance education, telemedicine, and remote scientific collaboration.

UT hopes to host a public demonstration of this technology in January, he said.

“The implementation of this technology demonstrates how full-screen, near-TV quality video can be delivered over the Internet using simple, inexpensive hardware and freely available software,” Hodge said.