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Mushroom Networks Pitches Cell-Based Newsgathering

Mushroom Networks, a small tech firm formed in 2004 as a spinoff from the University of California at San Diego, is unearthing a new broadband-transmission technology that it said can deliver download speeds of up to 15 megabits per second, which it is pitching as a backhaul system for mobile news trucks and other professional video applications.

The “PortaBella” system uses Mushroom’s “Broadband Bonding” technology to combine multiple cellular data cards into a single Internet-protocol connection, and it is touted by Mushroom as “delivering the fastest available mobile Internet connection for downloading and uploading media-rich data.”

Mushroom wouldn’t be the first to pitch an IP-based backhaul system to local TV stations -- microwave suppliers like NuComm already sell such gear -- and stations in major markets like San Francisco and Detroit have experimented with using cellular connections such as EVDO cards and satellite-based IP systems to backhaul video. Major news organizations like CNN and Fox News Channel are also established users of both EVDO and broadband-over-satellite technology.

But Mushroom said its PortaBella system is unique because it can aggregate the capacity of as many as five USB-based (universal serial bus) cellular data cards to provide increased access to bandwidth both in the uplink and downlink directions.

The system, which starts at $1,595, can also bond Internet-access technology from different providers.

Mushroom says it is “actively pursuing channel partners” to resell PortaBella to expand the product’s reach across its targeted vertical markets, which include newsgathering agencies, mobile-TV broadcasting, military, government and emergency response.

“We are solving a key pain point for markets that demand reliable and high-speed Internet where the application is not otherwise suitable for wired Internet alternatives,” said Dr. Cahit Akin, cofounder and CEO of Mushroom Networks, in a statement. “Imagine a mobile newsgathering vehicle streaming video from the field, or a highway traffic-monitoring system or a temporary construction trailer, which requires a fast and reliable connection immediately,” he added.