By Rebekah Martin
Streaming devices, sticks and consoles like AppleTV and Roku and other may be facing an emerging competitor – and the new business is now distributing its product in the Lee County area.
John Brandt, former owner of the War Eagle Supper Club, joined forces with the Freestream team last year, joining ranks with friends and inventors of the Freestream box, Grady Kittrell and Blair Cote. Brandt now operates a Freestream distribution center out of Round House on South Eighth Street. In its early stages, Freestream contracted with Jason Bissell to design its interface. Bissell recently relocated to Opelika from Syracuse, New York to work as the Chief Technology Officer of Round House.
The Freestream box connects its consumers to a world of media, games, apps and internet browsers – all streamed through a small black box connected to a television via an HDMI cable. Brandt said having a fast internet connection is key to getting the most out of the device, stating that a connection speed of 10 mega bits per second or higher will be sufficient. State Tech Magazine reported that Alabama’s average internet speed in 2015 was 3.74 mega bits per second. In comparison, Opelika’s 1 gigabit per second internet speed is estimated to be 300 times faster than the state-wide average.
Brandt said this device is perfect for Opelika residents because of the speed of fiber internet system provided by Opelika Power Services. “Anything over 10 megs will work on it, so Charter and WOW! will get it too, but of course Opelika is much better,” Brandt said. “This is a device that will basically turn your TV into a computer.”
“I love it as much for the TV series’s as I do for movies. You can binge-watch series, old and new,” Brandt said. “Whether it be The Blacklist … or the pilot episode of Gunsmoke … You can watch pretty much any television show that’s ever been made.”
Kyle Sandler, founder and conductor of Round House expressed his appreciation for Brandt’s involvement in the small-business incubator. “John Brandt has been an amazing asset to the Round House community. He’s worked with young adults his entire career so he fit right in and has even provided mentorship to several of our entrepreneurs while working on Free Stream,” Sandler said. “John seemed skeptical at first but now he fits right in. John is in his 50s and fits right in where our entrepreneurs range from 14 years old to 65.”
The Freestream box retails for $229 on www.freestream.com, but Brandt sells the device from Round House for a discounted price of $190. There are no subscription fees associated with the Freestream box. Brandt said that fact alone makes the Freestream box superior to other streaming devices. Freestream boxes can also be purchased from Rix TV and Appliance on Pepperell Parkway.