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AT&T not responsible for iPad streaming video restrictions over 3G

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
ABC's streaming video application for the iPad will not work over a 3G cellular network such as AT&T, as a result of Apple's rules for HTTP Live Streaming and ABC's development of the application.

When the iPad with 3G launched on Friday in the U.S., many users realized that the ABC Player application, which allows users to view episodes of the network's most popular shows, does not work over the AT&T 3G network. While there were initially rumors that this restriction was due to AT&T -- which in the past has prevented services like streaming, MMS and tethering -- the wireless carrier played no part in the missing feature. While AT&T eventually alloed VoIP calls and MMS over its 3G network, it has not yet allowed tethering.

As noted by Engadget, the restriction in the ABC player was self-imposed, as the developers chose to skip the option of providing a 64 Kbps stream for 3G playback. That decision is why the ABC application does not allow streaming over 3G, while Netflix and YouTube do, albeit with lower bitrates.

"You must include a low quality stream of no more than 64 Kbps for your app to resort to when network conditions demand it, along with the higher quality streams you want to deliver to your customers when the network can support it," Apple's rules in the iPhone OS Reference Library state.

But the restriction may not last for long. Silicon Alley Insider reported Monday that ABC is working on a 3G-compatible version of its popular streaming video application for the iPad. An ABC representative told the publication that the lack of 3G support was "based on a variety of business and technical considerations."



Both the ABC and Netflix applications were released for the iPad when the Wi-Fi model first launched in early April. While both are free to download, the Netflix software requires a subscription to the movie rental service.
post #2 of 52
it appears ABC does have an app for streaming...

http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/03/a...pp-on-the-way/
post #3 of 52
Never mind. What it meant was that Netflex can consume as much as 250MB per hour.
post #4 of 52
Apple's requirements make sense. When network quality goes down, a low quality stream will allow continued consumption. But ABC may have felt it was too low in quality for them to want to do that. Perhaps now they've changed their minds.
post #5 of 52
Yes, a solution is indeed on its way:

http://www.businessinsider.com/abc-i...its-way-2010-5
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post #6 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Apple's requirements make sense. When network quality goes down, a low quality stream will allow continued consumption. But ABC may have felt it was too low in quality for them to want to do that. Perhaps now they've changed their minds.

I think the 64 Kbps is fine for the iPhone. I don't think it is suitable for the iPad larger display. Apple should increase it.
post #7 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

I think the 64 Kbps is fine for the iPhone. I don't think it is suitable for the iPad larger display. Apple should increase it.

This is likely a technical matter. Analyzing network quality to see what could be supported under many adverse conditions. 64 Kbps was likely found to be a compromise between always on, and usability. It's possible that if they raise it a little bit to 96, it might not work under substantially more situations.

What would most consumers prefer, a baseball game that's visible, but lousy, or none at all? I can tell you what most sports fans would want.
post #8 of 52
Why is this ABC's fault? If its not AT&T, this is clearly Apple's fault.

Why should Apple be dictating how much AT&T's network can handle.

Apple should relax this restriction. If its not needed, its not needed. Apple over control again.
post #9 of 52
For such a magical and revolutionary product, its actual functionality is just...

...so half-assed in so many ways...
post #10 of 52
None of this should be confused with the self-imposed lack video out while viewing ABC content. If I'm not mistaken ABC has already gone on record with a reason for that. It boiled down to not wanting to provide playback on 'large screen devices'. Speculation says that ABC doesn't want to unduly ruffle the feathers of cable TV and satellite providers who (are now - lol) forced to pay them a pretty penny to show their programming. Cablevision alone just ponied up .... 25m-ish for the right to retransmit ABC to its 3.1m subscribers... (something like that)

Anyway, I guess ABC feels its not time to rock that boat any more then they already have...
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post #11 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Apple's requirements make sense. When network quality goes down, a low quality stream will allow continued consumption. But ABC may have felt it was too low in quality for them to want to do that. Perhaps now they've changed their minds.

I agree, but, surely the limit reflects in some way on what the AT&T network can (or can't) handle?
post #12 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by dm3 View Post

Why is this ABC's fault? If its not AT&T, this is clearly Apple's fault.

Why should Apple be dictating how much AT&T's network can handle.

Apple should relax this restriction. If its not needed, its not needed. Apple over control again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by echosonic View Post

For such a magical and revolutionary product, its actual functionality is just...

...so half-assed in so many ways...

Did you even read the article?! It was ABC that chose to not stream over 3G. They, meaning ABC, disabled 3G streaming from within their app. Other apps, like Netflex, stream just fine over 3G.
post #13 of 52
Improve your mind. Kill your television. Even if it is on the Ipad. Remember, television programing is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
post #14 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by dm3 View Post

Why is this ABC's fault? If its not AT&T, this is clearly Apple's fault.

Why should Apple be dictating how much AT&T's network can handle.

Apple should relax this restriction. If its not needed, its not needed. Apple over control again.

What is this about "fault"? It's no one's "fault". It was a decision made of a number of factors, which have now been resolved.

Do you understand anything about networks, and how over-air quality changes? Apple's decision isn't unique, and it's made to facilitate streaming under poor conditions, which most people would prefer.

ABC possibly didn't want that. Now they decided it's ok.

Read the link Macfabulous provided instead of running off half cocked.
post #15 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by echosonic View Post

For such a magical and revolutionary product, its actual functionality is just...

...so half-assed in so many ways...

A lot of what is half assed is people's understanding of how things work, and why.
post #16 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

I agree, but, surely the limit reflects in some way on what the AT&T network can (or can't) handle?

Sorry to quote myself, but, I've just been thinking further.

It would be interesting to see if Apple set this limit differently from country to country, depending on what they see as the ability of the carrier - now that would give some fuel to the AT&T attackers!
post #17 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by echosonic View Post

For such a magical and revolutionary product, its actual functionality is just...

...so half-assed in so many ways...

You're right! Apple should have held back until every single one of the developers and content partners (worldwide) were fully ramped up with 100% of their features before Apple started selling the device. This is just deplorable, the ABC app might not offer a 3G quality stream for ... DAYS if not WEEKS after the 3G went on sale! After all... this IS the reason why everyone is buying the iPad right? To stream 3G quality reruns of ABC programming! Right!?!

Hmm anyone remember what the state of the computing world was like in the 4-8 weeks period just after Microsoft introduced ANY of their Windows 'major' upgrades.... I'm quite positive that EVERYTHING was ready to go on the new system, from 3rd party hardware device drivers to the newest of spyware and viruses oh yea and the 3rd party apps too... almost forgot about those.
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post #18 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by 801 View Post

Improve your mind. Kill your television. Even if it is on the Ipad. Remember, television programing is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

I recently did just that...the only thing I miss is Formula One on Speed!
post #19 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

I agree, but, surely the limit reflects in some way on what the AT&T network can (or can't) handle?

Not in the slightest. All networks have problems. Turn a corner and your service can go down. This is just a backup. As I said, Apple isn't unique in requiring this, though others have a slightly higher or lower requirement for the backup stream.
post #20 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

This is likely a technical matter. Analyzing network quality to see what could be supported under many adverse conditions. 64 Kbps was likely found to be a compromise between always on, and usability. It's possible that if they raise it a little bit to 96, it might not work under substantially more situations.

What would most consumers prefer, a baseball game that's visible, but lousy, or none at all? I can tell you what most sports fans would want.

I agree with you. If I am not mistaken, streaming video using your computer did the same thing few years back. The player determined how much bandwidth you have and adjust the bit rate. I am not sure if it is still done though.
post #21 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Not in the slightest. All networks have problems. Turn a corner and your service can go down. This is just a backup. As I said, Apple isn't unique in requiring this, though others have a slightly higher or lower requirement for the backup stream.

But surely if the AT&T network could handle, say 1Mbps (we can dream!), Apple would set the limit much higher, so the number they have picked must in some way reflect on the networks capability?

I understand that it's sensible to work with the carrier, but I do wonder if the limit would be different if on a different carrier.
post #22 of 52
A bit off topic, but is anyone else using HTTP Live Streaming outside the Apple ecosystem?
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post #23 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

It would be interesting to see if Apple set this limit differently from country to country, depending on what they see as the ability of the carrier - now that would give some fuel to the AT&T attackers!

Huh?

Quote:
You must include a low quality stream of no more than 64 Kbps for your app to resort to when network conditions demand it, along with the higher quality streams you want to deliver to your customers when the network can support it

Apple isn't saying that 3G will FORCE all video down to 64Kbps...

What they seem to be saying is this... when streaming via 3G (generally a smaller pipe than most WIFI) there is a better chance that the network (AT&T/Verizon/etc) may throttle down to a much lower than 'expected' speed. When this happens Apple says they don't want iPad users to see 'nothing' or worse 'crash'... Instead they INSIST that the content provider offerers a very low Kbs version so 'the show can go on'...

Even IF the show is of a much reduced quality... Apple is simply saying to the content streamers have a 'fall back' quality of the content available if the 3G network is having a very hard time.

As a content provider you are more than welcome to offer whatever quality you think the 3G networks in your area can support... but have lower bandwidth content on the sidelines if 3G isn't able to sustain the 'full 3G quality' stream you wanted to deliver.

This is how I'm reading it anyway... Am I wrong?
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post #24 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

I agree with you. If I am not mistaken, streaming video using your computer did the same thing few years back. The player determined how much bandwidth you have and adjust the bit rate. I am not sure if it is still done though.

That's exactly right.

I remember when Realnetworks first invented streaming music. At first this played over dial-up, though I had ISDN, so it was better. The quality would vary from 8kbps to 64kbps, and you could hear the change in quality. It would even drop out. If they just used 64kbps, it would hardly work at all for anyone.

Nowadays, you can often choose which quality video stream you want. But buffering helps.
post #25 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

Apple isn't saying that 3G will FORCE all video down to 64Kbps...

What they seem to be saying is this... when streaming via 3G (generally a smaller pipe than most WIFI) there is a better chance that the network (AT&T/Verizon/etc) may throttle down to a much lower than 'expected' speed. When this happens Apple says they don't want iPad users to see 'nothing' or worse 'crash'... Instead they INSIST that the content provider offerers a very low Kbs version so 'the show can go on'...

Even IF the show is of a much reduced quality... Apple is simply saying to the content streamers have a 'fall back' quality of the content available if the 3G network is having a very hard time.

As a content provider you are more than welcome to offer whatever quality you think the 3G networks in your area can support... but have lower bandwidth content on the sidelines if 3G isn't able to sustain the 'full 3G quality' stream you wanted to deliver.

This is how I'm reading it anyway... Am I wrong?

I think you're right, I'm just wondering why 64kbps was the magic number they picked. Why not 128? Or 32?
post #26 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

But surely if the AT&T network could handle, say 1Mbps (we can dream!), Apple would set the limit much higher, so the number they have picked must in some way reflect on the networks capability?

I understand that it's sensible to work with the carrier, but I do wonder if the limit would be different if on a different carrier.

It doesn't work that way. And it handles 3.6 Mbps now, and 7.2 in many places. Mobile devices can't take advantage of this even if they have the proper chips, but that's for another discussion.

It's not just AT&T. Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have the same problems, and so does every other carrier on the world.

When you're indoors, for example, the network speeds drop seriously. The further you may be in a building the more they drop. It doesn't matter what carrier you have.

I know you want to blame someone, but it's not that simple.
post #27 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

Apple isn't saying that 3G will FORCE all video down to 64Kbps...

What they seem to be saying is this... when streaming via 3G (generally a smaller pipe than most WIFI) there is a better chance that the network (AT&T/Verizon/etc) may throttle down to a much lower than 'expected' speed. When this happens Apple says they don't want iPad users to see 'nothing' or worse 'crash'... Instead they INSIST that the content provider offerers a very low Kbs version so 'the show can go on'...

Even IF the show is of a much reduced quality... Apple is simply saying to the content streamers have a 'fall back' quality of the content available if the 3G network is having a very hard time.

As a content provider you are more than welcome to offer whatever quality you think the 3G networks in your area can support... but have lower bandwidth content on the sidelines if 3G isn't able to sustain the 'full 3G quality' stream you wanted to deliver.

This is how I'm reading it anyway... Am I wrong?

You're not reading it wrong. As I keep telling people, this is a BACKUP stream. It's not what people should be seeing most of the time.

Somehow, some people aren't getting it.
post #28 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharktank View Post

it appears ABC does have an app for streaming...

They already have an app for streaming.
You mean they are completing an app to stream over 3G.
post #29 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

I think you're right, I'm just wondering why 64kbps was the magic number they picked. Why not 128? Or 32?

I already told you.
post #30 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

You're not reading it wrong. As I keep telling people, this is a BACKUP stream. It's not what people should be seeing most of the time.

Somehow, some people aren't getting it.

Sorry I'm not getting it, so here come some stupid questions!

Where you say this is a backup stream, does this mean it's effectively letting content providers plan for the worst case scenario? That being the case, what bit rate does it use normally (i.e. when it's not using the backup)?

The way I was reading it was that if you try and use video over the 3G network, it's going to be limited to 64kpbs (albeit by the iPad, not the network)?
post #31 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by 801 View Post

Improve your mind. Kill your television. Even if it is on the Ipad. Remember, television programing is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Your comment is outrageous and insulting. While I'd agree that much of the programming on network television is produced solely for entertainment purposes (which you might keep in mind), there are many programs that are extremely engaging and informative.

For example:
  • Life - a miniseries on nature shot in stunning HD
  • How it works - a series that details products and what makes them tick
  • The Pacific - a docu-drama exploring a soldiers life in WWII
  • FoodTV - a channel who's programming centers around cooking
  • DIY - a channel that teaches home improvement and other useful shows
  • History Channel - numerous shows about history. In fact, "America - The Story of Us" is one of the most factual and informative shows I've seen in a long time. (http://www.history.com/shows/america-the-story-of-us)

Your comment was nothing but rude and assumptive. Not everyone who watches TV is hooked on non-stop police dramas. There is good TV out there - good shows, good topics, and good intention. Stop generalizing.
post #32 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

It doesn't work that way. And it handles 3.6 Mbps now, and 7.2 in many places. Mobile devices can't take advantage of this even if they have the proper chips, but that's for another discussion.

It's not just AT&T. Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have the same problems, and so does every other carrier on the world.

When you're indoors, for example, the network speeds drop seriously. The further you may be in a building the more they drop. It doesn't matter what carrier you have.

I know you want to blame someone, but it's not that simple.

I don't want to blame anyone.

What I don't understand is where this 64kbps number comes from. I understand that the maximum will be variable based on reception conditions.
post #33 of 52
I was able to stream the shows to my iPad fine. I have a Wifi iPad and tethered it to my iPhone 3G.
post #34 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

Sorry I'm not getting it, so here come some stupid questions!

Where you say this is a backup stream, does this mean it's effectively letting content providers plan for the worst case scenario? That being the case, what bit rate does it use normally (i.e. when it's not using the backup)?

The way I was reading it was that if you try and use video over the 3G network, it's going to be limited to 64kpbs (albeit by the iPad, not the network)?

Now you're getting it! This is for worst case network conditions where the normal high quality stream can't be supported.

The normal stream will be much higher quality, though lower than WiFi, because WiFi bandwidth is still going to be higher for various reasons.

I don't know what the actual bitrate will be unless ABC tells us, or it's measured once the app is updated. Some apps tell you what the bandwidth is. But it will be several times as much. Even on the internet as a whole, the bandwidth is usually 256 kbps to 728 kbps for high quality streaming. Occasionally, it might be higher, but rarely above 1 Mbps.
post #35 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

I don't want to blame anyone.

What I don't understand is where this 64kbps number comes from. I understand that the maximum will be variable based on reception conditions.

Sorry. I was thinking of someone else.

As I said, Apple has people in their R&D departments who do this kind of work. There is equipment for analyzing network quality. They can also access quality by simply using equipment in the field.

Here, there's some equipment used for this analysis:

http://www.home.agilent.com/agilent/...0&cc=US&lc=eng

Agilent used to be part of Hp.

When they do this analysis, they can determine what the best backup speed should be, based on a number of factors. I can't give you the exact reason why they decided on 64kbps, but be assured that it was the highest quality they felt the network could handle under poor conditions.

Be assured that no one wants to deliver the lowest quality signal.
post #36 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Now you're getting it! This is for worst case network conditions where the normal high quality stream can't be supported.

The normal stream will be much higher quality, though lower than WiFi, because WiFi bandwidth is still going to be higher for various reasons.

I don't know what the actual bitrate will be unless ABC tells us, or it's measured once the app is updated. Some apps tell you what the bandwidth is. But it will be several times as much. Even on the internet as a whole, the bandwidth is usually 256 kbps to 728 kbps for high quality streaming. Occasionally, it might be higher, but rarely above 1 Mbps.

Right, I think I'm starting to get it.

The thing that confuses me though is that the initial article says:

Quote:
ABC's streaming video application for the iPad will not work over a 3G cellular network such as AT&T, as a result of Apple's rules for HTTP Live Streaming and ABC's development of the application.

As noted by Engadget, the restriction in the ABC player was self-imposed, as the developers chose to skip the option of providing a 64 Kbps stream for 3G playback. That decision is why the ABC application does not allow streaming over 3G, while Netflix and YouTube do, albeit with lower bitrates.

So, I get that the ABC app only works on WiFi. What it then goes on to say is that ABC didn't want to provide 64kbps stream, which as I understand it would mean them having on their servers a lower quality video.

It then says that Netflix and YouTube do allow 3G streaming at lower bitrates, which I assume to be 64kbps, though I'm now wondering if they have two sets of videos on their servers, one which is say 728kbps and is the one they will try and get across to you if they can, and one which meets the "worst case" scenario of 64kbps?

If I'm right about that, it means Apple is saying what the worst case is going to be on the network and if you want to be able to stream video on 3G, you need to provide content that will be OK for the worst case.

And finally, bringing this back to what I was wondering in the first place, does the 64kbps "worst case" not reflect somehow on the capability of the network and a "better" network would have a worst case of say 128kbps?
post #37 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by FormerARSgm View Post

Your comment is outrageous and insulting. While I'd agree that much of the programming on network television is produced solely for entertainment purposes (which you might keep in mind), there are many programs that are extremely engaging and informative.

For example:
  • Life - a miniseries on nature shot in stunning HD
  • How it works - a series that details products and what makes them tick
  • The Pacific - a docu-drama exploring a soldiers life in WWII
  • FoodTV - a channel who's programming centers around cooking
  • DIY - a channel that teaches home improvement and other useful shows
  • History Channel - numerous shows about history. In fact, "America - The Story of Us" is one of the most factual and informative shows I've seen in a long time. (http://www.history.com/shows/america-the-story-of-us)

Your comment was nothing but rude and assumptive. Not everyone who watches TV is hooked on non-stop police dramas. There is good TV out there - good shows, good topics, and good intention. Stop generalizing.

Wow! Someone hit a nerve. Do you work in TV or something?

Truth is that although there is a substantial amount of educational and beneficial programming available it's not what most people watch. Ever check the Neilson top rated shows? In overwhelming numbers people choose the dumb stuff. When was the last time Washington Week in Review was the top rated news program? Oh yea, never.

The OPs opinion is completely justified. I actually find it comical you find it "insulting." Just about everything in life is more important than what you choose to watch on TV.
post #38 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

Right, I think I'm starting to get it.

The thing that confuses me though is that the initial article says:



So, I get that the ABC app only works on WiFi. What it then goes on to say is that ABC didn't want to provide 64kbps stream, which as I understand it would mean them having on their servers a lower quality video.

It then says that Netflix and YouTube do allow 3G streaming at lower bitrates, which I assume to be 64kbps, though I'm now wondering if they have two sets of videos on their servers, one which is say 728kbps and is the one they will try and get across to you if they can, and one which meets the "worst case" scenario of 64kbps?

If I'm right about that, it means Apple is saying what the worst case is going to be on the network and if you want to be able to stream video on 3G, you need to provide content that will be OK for the worst case.

And finally, bringing this back to what I was wondering in the first place, does the 64kbps "worst case" not reflect somehow on the capability of the network and a "better" network would have a worst case of say 128kbps?

Yes, you've got it!

Apparently, ABC was afraid that the backup stream was too low in quality for them. As we can see in this thread, there will always be people who jump out and accuse companies of deliberately screwing things up for their own nefarious reasons. I'm not including you in that now that I realize it was someone else I meant.

Companies are afraid that when that happens, more people will think their product is of low quality. Rather than have bad publicity over accusations of poor quality, they might rather not provide the service at all.

Have you seen the truly lousy quality of the YouTube streams to the iPad? I have here. They are bad. But then, no one really expects most YouTube video to be anything other than bad.

Netflix is lower quality over 3G, even when it's good. But it's not bad. I haven't seen a really bad Netflix stream yet, so I don't know just how bad it will be, but I expect it will be as bad as YouTube streams.

But if Netflix doesn't care, that's their business, right?

I have 802.n WiFi at home with a 6Mbps internet connection which will beat in a practical way, any phone, no matter what they will claim. That's just the way of it. It has to do with interference.

When I'm not using WiFi, but when using my 1Gbps Ethernet wired network, WiFi seems like it's crawling in comparison, even over the internet connection. I've made tests using my 2009 2 chip Mac Pro. When I'm using wired Ethernet, my internet speeds are about twice as fast as over WiFi. You wouldn't think that would happen, but it does.

Then comes the iPad using WiFi, then my 3G iPhone over WiFi, then the iPad over 3G, then last and least, my 3G iPhone over 3G.
post #39 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by 801 View Post

Improve your mind. Kill your television. Even if it is on the Ipad. Remember, television programing is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Have you ever watched The Wire?
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post #40 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by yensid98 View Post

Wow! Someone hit a nerve. Do you work in TV or something?

Truth is that although there is a substantial amount of educational and beneficial programming available it's not what most people watch. Ever check the Neilson top rated shows? In overwhelming numbers people choose the dumb stuff. When was the last time Washington Week in Review was the top rated news program? Oh yea, never.

The OPs opinion is completely justified. I actually find it comical you find it "insulting." Just about everything in life is more important than what you choose to watch on TV.

But them again. I find people who hold their nose up at Tv, but read comic books, trying to claim they're literature. Same thing with most movies. mostly crap, right? Music as well. We could get into an argument on what music out there is good based on what some people like.

I mean, liking something means it's good. Doesn't it? How many people want to admit, even to themselves, that they have poor taste, and can't tell quality from crap? But most people are like that.

It doesn't really matter. People like what they do.
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