KZWeb

Introduction

Listen Live
Unfortunately, old age or illness hinders some of our brothers and sisters to attend the meetings in the Kingdom Hall. Various systems have been used to allow them to listen in while the meetings took place, like the "Churchphone" system (in the Netherlands, provided by the phone company) or another system that connected 5 phone lines to the audio system.

KZweb offers you a cost-efficient, scalable, flexible and easy to operate alternative, that makes use of the internet to provide audio acces to the meetings.

Recordings
Apart from real time listening to the meetings, many congregations still provide recordings of the meetings. In the Netherlands this is done with a cassette recorder and tapes. Unfortunately this option becomes more and more problematic since this technology is phased out. Congregations have more difficulties in finding replacement recorders or tapes.

KZWeb solves this problem by keeping digital recordings in separate archives for each congregation in the Kingdom Hall. These recordings can be copied to USB storage devices (e.g. MP3 players).

The first deployment of KZWeb in a Kingdom Hall took place at January 27th, 2007 in the Netherlands. Currently (October 2017) KZWeb is being used in 90 Kingdom Halls by 190+ congregations.

If you would like to experience a live online demonstration of KZWeb, please contact us at the following email address:

Contact

For specific advice about implementing KZweb in your Kingdom Hall, please contact:

For support of your KZWeb system, please contact:

For an online demo, please contact:

 

Features

KZWeb is constantly seeking for improvements of the possibilities. Also feature requests may lead to expansion of the features. Here you will find een overview of all features.

Since version 1.0

Proven technology

KZWeb uses the same technology that is already in use for a long time by internet radio broadcasters. This technology has proven itself through the years. The broadcast can be heard with any system that is capable of this. That may be an ordinary PC or webradio.

Server

In the Kingdom Hall a PC is placed that is installed and configured as a dedicated server. This is based on regular but carefully selected hardware and so called "Open Source Software". In addition to standard software, KZWeb has software that is specially designed and developed to provide easy use of the server.

Internet connection

For the internet connection between the Kingdom Hall and the listener at home, any connection will do. The connection in the Kingdom Hall does have to meet some specific requirements.

Listening at home

For the listener at home there is the possibility to use his own PC with internet connection. If the listener doens't have a PC, there is the possibility to use a webradio. It will have to be configured once by the technical liaison of each congregation (e.g. the sound servant) and then installed at the listener. After that initial configuration and installation, all that is needed to operate the webradio is to turn on the radio (push the "On" button), wait for 10 to 30 seconds and the radio starts to play the sound from the Kingdom Hall. The webradio has a volume knob and a remote control to operate it.

Recordings

The same audio signal that is broadcasted through the internet, is also recorded on the server in the Kingdom Hall in an archive per congregation. This archive holds all recordings for a configurable period of time. From the archive a specific recording can be copied onto a USB storage device (e.g. MP3 player). It is not possible to download a copy from the archive through the internet nor is it possible to broadcast an older recording again.

Since version 1.1

Multilingual

With KZWeb version 1.1 the user interface is now also multilingual. Currently the following languages are available: Dutch, English and Croatian. Other languages can be added on request. It is possible to have different languages for each congregation in one Kingdom Hall on one server. This way the English congregation uses the English interface while a Dutch congregation in the same Kingdom Hall uses the Dutch interface.

Since version 2.0

Play music

KZWeb version 2.0 now supports playing of the music in the Kingdom Hall. This is for both the piano music as for the ochestra arrangements which can be played before and after the meetings. This feature has the same operation mode as the rest of the system: very easy.

Configurable functionality

With KZweb 2.0 the system can be configured for the desired functionality. This way the three main functions can be used independently. A Kingdom Hall may now choose to use KZWeb only for playing of the music and recording of the meetings without broadcasting over the Internet. It is also possible to only broadcast and record without the play function. And of course to only play and broadcast without recording. Any desired combination is possible.

Internet connection: yes or no?

When KZWeb is only used for playing of the music and recording of the meeting, then an Internet connection is not needed. If it is decided later on that the congregations would like to use the broadcast, the Internet connection can easily be added and used.

Dynamic IP addresses

There is no urgent need anymore for a connection with a static IP address in the Kingdom Hall. Although it still is advisable and highly preferred, an Internet connection with a dynamic IP address is also supported if needed.

Since version 2.1

System status overview

In order to facilitate support, there is an additional overview of the most important and relevant system tasks and settings.

Since version 2.2

Listen in your own Kingdom Hall to a live broadcast from another Kingdom Hall

In some cases a public talk speaker may not be able to make it to the Kingdom Hall or a congregation may not be able to find a public talk speaker. Now KZWeb can connect to another Kingdom Hall to listen to their broadcast. The audio is also transmitted to the own listeners. Of course the congregation needs apporval and a default listeners account in the transmitting congregation.

 

Comparison

How does KZWeb compare to other systems?

Kingdom Hall Phone systemKZWeb
Operational Costs Kingdom Hall - Fixed
- High, subscription for each phoneline/listener
- Not bound to specific phone district
- Fixed
- Low, independent of number of listeners
- Not bound to specific district or even geographic region
Connection Costs listeners - Nothing if using a Free-to-Landlines service (subscription fee only)
- Variable: per minute fee

- Nothing if already connected to the Internet (subscription fee only)
- Otherwise: cheapest Internet subscription
- Or: default internet connection that comes with digital telephonie (free)
- Or: dial-up Internet connection (variable costs)

Listening Device - telephone (preferably handsfree)

- PC (Windows, Mac, Linux)
- web radio
- internet tablet
- smartphone
- additional devices may be supported in the future

Usability - Not bound to specific phone district, but possibly higher costs for the listener except with Free-to-Landlines service - Not bound to specific geographical location, even internationally, at low local internet access rates if any
Scalability - 8 listeners maximum per installed system - Limited by bandwidth only. On a regular ADSL line with 1024 kbps upload speed: 20 to 25 listenens.
Flexibility - Maximum of 8 listeners: first come, first served
- Phonenumbers are fixed/known, so anyone can connect anonymously forever once the number is known
- Authorisation for new listeners can be added immediately, even temporarily
- Listeners are not anonymous but known at all times
- Authorisation of alistener can be revoked immediately
Sound Quality - Low, limited to 3kHz by the telephone system - High. MP3 encoding in 32kbps (for support of dial-up connections) is already better than telephone quality. Bitrate can be increased when only using broadband connections for listeners.
Possibility to participate in meeting - built into phone system - via regular or cell phone
Play Audio - via an external player device in the Kingdom Hall sound system - built into the system. Very easy to use.
Recordings - via an external recording device in the Kingdom Hall sound system - digital recordings in MP3 format with a configurable archive (default 1 year)
Connect Kingdom Halls - not possible - built into the system. Very easy to use.

 

Technology

KZWeb makes use of so-called "open source software". This type of software has no license fees attached to it. Besides this, KZWeb uses specifically developed software, which can be used free of charge, though conditions are placed on the use of the software.

The chosen technology is the same one that has been used many years by internet radio broadcasters. It's stability and reliability has proven itself. Additionally, this software provides access control on the broadcast thus making it a private broadcast.

The server receives the audio signal directly from the sound equipment. This signal is encoded "on the fly" or "live" into MP3 format. This is passed onto the broadcast software ("Streaming server") which in turn controls the access of the listeners to the MP3 stream. Every authorized listener can receive the MP3 stream by the default HTTP protocol. In order to receive and listen to this stream, any PC with appropriate software or any other appropriate device will suffice. The only requirement is that the software or device needs to support and use HTTP authentication.

Additionally the broadcasting software also records the broadcasted stream into a file in Average Bit Rate (ABR). Any MP3 player that supports this ABR, can use the MP3 file.

The administration and use of the system is very simple through the use of a graphical user interface. Since the server is a so called "black-box" no other tasks are needed then the following options:


 

Requirements

A succesful deployment of KZWeb comes with a few minimal requirements, both for the Kingdom Hall and the listeners at home.

Kingdom Hall

Server
Experience has proved that it isn't possible to convert any computer to a stable KZWeb system. For this reason KZWeb is offered as an "appliance" (also known as "black-box"). The selected hardware and software ensures a stable and reliable system. It also means that each Kingdom Hall receives a preconfigured and pretested system before it is installed on-site.

KZWeb takes into account the specific requirements for Kingdom Halls when building the system. This can be noticed in the size of the casing and the reasonable price.

Internet connection
There are also some minimal requirements for the internet connection:

* Since KZWeb 2.0 a fixed IP address is not a requirement anymore but still highly recommended.

KZWeb is not a reseller of internet connections and the Kingdom Hall committee needs to take care of it themselves. However, the KZWeb team does have some experience with various internet access providers and can offer some suggestions.

At home:

There are various ways the listeners can obtain access to the broadcast:
Windows PC
Mac OS X / Linux
No computer
  • Webradio from "Solutionsradio"
Internet connection. Choice of:

Using a dialup connection is technically possible, though not recommended by us. The Dutch dialup connections have proven themselves to be unstable, resulting in multiple disconnects during the meetings. Dialup connections can be used in case of temporary or incidental use. For permanent use we recommend a broadband connection. In the Netherlands the costs of broadband are comparable to dialup.
Additionally more and more free dialup providers are stopping with this free service. Only subscribed customers may get service, which increases the costs.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it possible for a listener to participate in the meeting by giving an answer?
  • Does KZWeb use VoIP (Voice over IP)?
  • Can anyone listen to the meetings?
  • What are the benefits of KZWeb?
  • How many listeners does KZWeb support simultaneously?
  • Is a broadcast recorded or stored somewhere on the internet?
  • What specific skills are needed to use or operate KZWeb?
  • Is a broadcast or recording with video also possible?
  • Can other software be installed on the system?

    Yes. By connecting the telephone line to the audio installation, a listener at home can simply call the Kingdom Hall. After the call is received, the speaker can be signalled that there is a participant on the phone. If that participant gets the turn, the sound servant will open that channel on the mixer and the voice of the participant will be heard over de sound installation.
    For signalling the speaker, many options are possible. Some are "High-Tech" but the most simple and effective way for the signalling is for the sound servant to hold the phone in the air.

    Does KZWeb use VoIP (Voice over IP)?

    No. This is because of the sound quality and the way VoIP operates.

    Sound quality: Because VoIP uses the same bandwidth as regular telephony, the sound quality is inferior. This is because there is only 3000Hz of bandwidth available. Therefore not all frequencies are passed along. For the elderly with reduced hearing ability it can be very hard to concentrate on a meeting of 2 hours. Especially over a speaker phone.
    KZWeb on the other hand, uses MP3 encoding. This produces a much better sound quality. By default KZWeb uses a low bitrate of 32kbps to support listeners with a dial-up over a 56k6 modem connection. This already provides a significantly better quality than VoIP or regular telephony. If there are only listeners with broadband connections, the bitrate may even be set higher.

    Operation: VoIP may be used in two ways: through a VoIP provider or through Peer-to-Peer networks

    In case of a provider a listener can use a regular phone line to listen to the audio signal from KZWeb. To do this, special hardware is needed to provide the connection between the KZWeb's internet connection and the listener's phone line. This can be done in two ways: 1) Doing it yourself with special hardware or 2) a subscription from a provider who does this for you.
    The first option is not flexible as it requires every listener (including the occasional listener) to own or have the necessary hardware at home, including an internet connection. The special hardware can also be put in the Kingdom Hall. Needless to say that this is very costly.
    The second option reduces the need for the hardware and expertise to install and maintain it but it still is costly. This still would leave us with the problem of access control. In addition, the Kingdom Hall and the listeners would become dependent on a third party.
    In both situations it would still be necessary to create a so-called conference circuit in order to connect multiple phone lines to the Kingdom Hall. This always involves a commercial third party for even more dedicated hardware. And, of course, this leads to additional costs.

    With Peer-to-Peer networks (like Skype, although no true VoIP) the audio signal is transferred through other (unknown!) nodes in the Peer-to-Peer network. This software is free but doesn't have sufficient conferencing abilities due to a limited number of allowed participants. Higher numbers of participants are allowed with the commercial service. Apart from this, a VoIP systems necessitates the use of a computer or the use of a VoIP. The latter one can be obtained at a modest price. The key problem would be access control.

    A VoIP system would also create a dependency on a third party. In case of a VoIP provider this entails the provider and a peer-to-peer network with an unspecified number of unknown participants. Tying a Kingdom Hall VoIP system to a VoIP peer-to-peer network would also mean sharing the server and the network to other participants in the network for all kinds of "undefined businesses". The peer-to-peer character is compulsory for anyone participating and can not be switched of.

    Can anyone listen to the meetings?

    Yes and No.

    Yes: Anyone who is authorized can listen to the broadcast from the Kingdom Hall provided he/she has an internet connection (even dial up) and the appropriate hardware/software. The appropriate hardware/software could be a PC or web radio. Because there are some minimal requirements for the web radio, KZWeb is able to advise you on this.

    No: The broadcasts are not publicly accessible. The listener would need authorization which is provided through the congregation.

    What are the benefits of KZWeb?
    • Flexibility. Adding a new listener is a matter of seconds. Revoking this access is a matter of a few mouse clicks.
    • Independence. KZWeb uses the internet only as a channel for communication. No third party facilities are needed. The entire management is taken care of in the Kingdom Hall.
    • Recordings. All broadcasted meetings are recorded and archived for a configurable period of time (default one year). It takes about 1 minute to transfer a recorded meeting from the archives to a USB storage device. This makes it possible to use multiple devices (for instance portable audioplayer) to be handed out to brothers and sisters who can not attend the meeting nor be attached to the KZweb system.
    • Sound quality. Because KZWeb uses MP3 encoding, it produces a much better sound compared to telephony, be it analogue, digital or VoIP (Voice over IP).
    How many listeners does KZWeb support simultaneously?

    Approximately 20 The actual amount of listeners depends on the real (not advertised) upload speed of the Kingdom Hall internet connection. The real upload speed depends on the quality of the cables and the distance from the Kingdom Hall to the telephone companies' switchboard.

    During one stress test over a connection with a specified speed of 1024 kbps (which was also actually achieved) a maximum of 27 listeners could be served. In reality, most connections will not reach this maximum speed. For this reason we have decided that 20 simultaneous listeners is the maximum amount. We believe this should suffice for most congregations.

    Is a broadcast recorded or stored somewhere on the internet?

    No. The audio signal is digitized in the Kingdom Hall. The digital signal is then transmitted directly to the listeners without any redirects or interference from others. After the digital audio signal is received, it is also vanished from the internet.
    The digitized audio signal however, is recorded in the archive on the server in the Kingdom Hall. This recording can be copied to an USB device in the Kingdom Hall. The recording can not be retransmitted nor can it be downloaded through the internet.

    What specific skills are needed to use or operate KZWeb?

    None.

    • KZWeb has a tailor-made user interface that simplifies the operation of the server in the Kingdom Hall.
    • The listener at home uses his/her own familiar computer. For the elderly and those without a computer, we recommend the webradio that is available at SolutionsRadio. It is extremely simple to use: power switch on/off, and a volume control.

    Is a broadcast or recording with video also possible?

    No. KZWeb does not support video. KZweb was designed to support the elderly and/or (chronically) ill. Sick people are quite often in bed or feel too ill to watch a screen. Usually the elderly do not have a computer to receive and watch video.

    Besides this, there are some other practical issues:

    • Video requires much more bandwidth. In order to provide the KZWeb service to a substantial number of listeners, a much more expensive internet connection would be needed in the Kingdom Hall.
    • Listeners without a broadband internet connection (like the elderly who don't have ADSL and use the webradio on a dial-up connection) can not receive the broadcast and will not be able to benefit from the theocratic education.
    • Listeners (including the elderly) would be obliged to have (or obtain) a computer (and be able to operate it) in order to receive a broadcast. Copying a video recording onto DVD has proven to be too time consuming which resulted in only one copy to be made after the meeting. This single copy had to circulate again with all delays in receiving the theocratic information and logistic problems to get the copy to everyone before the next meeting.
    • Multiple expensive cameras would be needed in the Kingdom Hall to produce a decent image. Regular camcorders are usually not fitted for the need. Think about the tri-pods, expensive zoom lenses (usually the cameras cannot be placed right in front of the podium), extra and proper lighting (with higher electricity consumption), expensive video mixers or multiplexers to make one final shot from the 2 or 3 camera's.
    • It is very labour intensive to operate the video camera's which means that those who operate them, will not be able to benefit from the talks and education that is given. The same is true for the one operating the video mixer/multiplexer.

    Of course, these problems could be solved with cheaper equipment or with a simpler setup. This has been tried by various Kingdom Halls, but didn't provide the quality nor the benefit that was expected.

    Compared to some District Conventions where a video system is or was used, the benefits are very small. It requires a substantial investment in equipment, training time and operating time (during the meetings). The operators will not be able to concentrate completely on the education provided during the meetings. All this effort is undertaken to provide a very small number of brothers and sisters with a (though lovingly made, but non-professional) video, who might even not feel well enough to sit and watch it. For this reason, KZweb deemed the added value of video recordings too low to add this feature to the system.

    Can other software be installed on the system?

    No. KZWeb is a "Black-Box", an appliance. You can not install other software on e.g. a CD or DVD player either.

    In order to provide guaranteed operation and the necessary ease-of-use, KZWeb is a closed system. The user interface does not allow additional software to be installed nor operated. Besides, KZWeb is designed to be used for one purpose only: handling sound in an easy way without additional maintenance.

    Many times we received the question if it would be possible to install the Watchtower Library on the KZWeb system or other software to support a beamer/projector and presentations. Though technically possible, this will not be done.

    For the Watchtower Library the counter with the sound equipment is definitely not the right place. The Library could be used during the meeting if someone would have to stand in for someone else. The Library could also be used by anyone in the congregation. But it is definitely undesirable to have anyone operate the KZWeb system just for the Library, let alone during the meeting.

    The responsibility of a presentation is not with the sound servant. For this reason it is by far better that the speaker will operate any system for presentations by himself or in co-operation with the stage servant. This way the sound servant will be able to focus on his own task and operate the equipment within his own responsibility.

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