Buyers guide to cellular uplinking


Ronen Artman TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Ronen Artman (VP of marketing LiveU) and Lorna Garrett (Director, Garland Partners Ltd)
Cellular uplinking continues to change the way that video is gathered in the field, bringing new levels of flexibility and cost-effectiveness. The technology allows broadcasters to alter the way that they approach events, be that news, sports, community activities or anything in between. It has also delivered high quality live video to the online community, bringing events closer to users, providing previously unimaginable levels of engagement, and helping to provide a 360 degree experience - look at the US election coverage and the associated tweeting to see what a major role cellular-based uplink technology played.
London 2012 was a clear tipping point for the technology based on LiveU’s deployment figures: over 3,000 transmission hours; around 1.5 TB used; and over 100 units in use to cover the Games - about 20 broadcasting at any given time during the day. That represents a sea change from the early use of the technology by NBC at the Beijing Games four years earlier.
From a market leading supplier’s point of view, this means a move to a more rounded, solutions-based market approach to offer customers a complete end-to-end transmission solution, adding laptop and mobile apps alongside flagship models as well as further developing the family of handheld products.
Not all bonded modem technologies are created – or developed – equally. There are considerable real-world differences in usability and, crucially, reliability in terms of signal delivery. There are also considerable variations in overall service provision. Here’s a clear, concise 10-point guide to the key points that customers should explore before choosing their unit.
  1. While high-quality video experience relies on smooth and uninterrupted video delivery, cellular links are inherently unstable and fluctuate continuously. Transmitting video over such a link may result in black screens, video breaks, pixelisation, jitters, audio problems, lost lip-sync etc., even over 4G networks and from stationary locations. This requires both highly advanced bonded modem and RF technology to provide extra-strong resiliency even in areas with poor cellular coverage e.g. on the move or in crowded locations. From bustling urban environments to underground tunnels, high-rise office buildings and crowded public events, market-leading bonding technology overcomes cellular multipath fading and poor cellular coverage, taking "anywhere" to a whole new level.
This also greatly enhances mobility with the latest external antenna technology able to be vehicle-mounted (or remotely located), opening another world of possibilities. This creates a revolutionary mobile newsgathering (MNG) vehicle with satellite-like reliability, faster set-up time and lower overheads than traditional SNG trucks.
  1. Customers shouldn’t have to worry about complex data plans. Supplying all the SIMs and data plans necessary to provide high-quality video streaming from the field with only one monthly invoice releases the customer from the hassles of SIM card management and payment. By using a leased-based model, users can also stay current with the latest hardware, software, and fastest data connections through upgrades to the latest available version. This is essential in such a fast-paced environment. Of course 24/7/365 customer support, comprehensive warranty, hardware, software, installation and training is a given.
  1. While it may not be essential for all customers, roaming support is clearly vital for some. There’s two ways to do this: an automatic roaming unit, ready for operation across multiple countries, right out of the box. For example, across Europe, users can operate the same unit in different countries without running into any local telecom service-related hassles or additional roaming charges. This enables users to respond quickly to regional events, with no delays.
A second option is to provide the ability for customers to use their own units when roaming, by simply obtaining their own local SIM cards at the international destination and easily adding them. A good manufacturer or local partner can also recommend the optimal cellular resources to be used in each destination.
  1. There’s always some trade-off between ultimate quality and signal delay but for broadcast interview use, customers should expect a unit to be able to achieve sub-second latency. It is essential that customers ask this question when exploring the market if they want to have access to that level of flexibility and broadcast-quality.
  1. So what about back-end connectivity? Of course for broadcast use this requires SDI-out but that’s not the case for streaming. A multi-client video receiver should use off-the-shelf hardware with the server software supporting multiple field units simultaneously with SDI outputs, FME, WME, and H.264 streaming. In the case of SDI, the card in the server then connects to the studio switcher for routing the video in the studio.
Being able to easily integrate with the growing range of CDNs/OVPs is vital. The cellular uplinking technology should support any platform that can receive an encoded RTMP feed, using Flash Media, or H.264. Alternatively, a physical SDI output should be able to be used to push video from the server to any kind of hardware-based web encoders.
  1. Flagship broadcast units need to provide flexible control. A unit should easily be able to be fully controlled by a single operator in the field using an intuitive touch-screen interface and/or an external touch-screen. Additionally, remote control should be an option from any computer or using a variety of mobile devices such as iPhone, iTouch, Android, and iPad. In order to achieve the best results quickly, the best engineered technology can help users by analysing conditions in the field and automatically recommending the most suitable video settings.
  1. As mentioned above, the cellular uplinking landscape is now changing with the story dictating what level of connectivity is required, from market-leading units that provide a satellite-like level of service all the way to smartphones that can now take advantage of the technology. This means that broadcasters can let the story define what technology is required, rather than vice versa – or indeed missing the story completely as sometimes previously happened because of the lack of deployment speed and mobility afforded by SNG units. But to take full advantage of this a broadcast facility requires a feed-handling platform that those in a master control room can use to either take the incoming content from multiple locations and devices straight to air or record to server. This is now possible from a single control ecosystem.
  1. In terms of powering units, again flexibility is key and in no way should power issues limit the use of the technology in the field. Anton Bauer, IDX and Sony V-Mount batteries are the most popular options that users should look for, with single or dual hot-swappable batteries as an integral, cable-free, part of the backpack. The cellular uplink unit should of course also be able to operate with a direct DC power supply, come equipped with a built-in ion-lithium battery, and support additional hot-swappable battery types. This will provide the level of portability and power options that users need.
  1. While live transmission is of course one option, store and forward in backpack units – and now handheld and laptop units too – is also vital. Fast File Transfer (FTP with multiple modes) for fast upload of pre-recorded material from anywhere into the workflow is also highly desirable; IFB (return audio channel from studio) and local recording on the transmitting unit or on externally attached storage device are also possible. A live feed is not always required. Input support from a variety of field editing and switching devices, and therefore support multi-camera productions and real-time field editing, is also possible so users should enquire about that too.
  1. As previously mentioned – and as is clear from these ten points – almost anything is now possible with this technology, from a full HD, satellite-like experience to handheld, point-and-shoot on the spot to capture the completely unexpected. Not all stories are equal, so the level of technology and type of device required varies. From Tier-1 broadcasters downwards, there are so many ways of providing live video – users can precisely select the technology they require for the job at hand wherever the story is taking them. Ask for a test drive, see what works for you and dive in to the new world of live video transmission.
At BVE 2013, LiveU will be exhibiting with its UK distributor Garland Partners Ltd. on stand E33, highlighting its range of products including a LU40-S handheld unit and LU70 backpack showcased using 4G. Laptop and mobile apps will also be on show.

Tags: iss073 | liveu | garland | LU40-S handheld unit | LU70 Backpack | local sim cards | Ronen Artman
Contributing Author Ronen Artman

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Contributing Author John Smith -new Click to read or download PDF
Technological advances in the broadcast industry
Alan Wheable Since it is Omnitek’s 20th anniversary this year, I thought it would be interesting to look back over the technological advances in the broadcast industry over the last few decades and look at the similarities between then and now.
Tags: iss130 | omnitek | test and measurement | smpte 2110 | untra tq | 2022 | sdi 2022-6 | Alan Wheable
Contributing Author Alan Wheable Click to read or download PDF
Tried and tested: DPA d:vice
KitPlus KitPlus recently took delivery of an interesting piece of equipment for review. We like our iPhone gadgets here. For us, useful iPhone gadgets started when the Olloclip lens gave us a wide angle adaptor. This was a good start, finally evolving into a proper tool when Ziess produced the Exolens system for the 5,6 & 7 series iPhones. Around the same time as the Olloclip came out we were testing the Fostex AR4i which was a very exciting development at the time. You have a portable device, that you carry everywhere with you, connected to the world but with very limited audio capabilities. A stereo interface with decent microphones was a real boon!
Tags: iss130 | dpa | dvice | iphone | journalist mic | filmic | ios | microdot | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read or download PDF
Interview with Peter Rowsell, Polar Graphics
Polar If you don’t recognise the name Peter Rowsell instantly you no doubt would recognise him in person, from the famous ‘Pink Coconut’ parties during IBC (Brighton) in the 80s or the name ‘Polar Video or Polar Graphics’ both companies which he’s built up over the years.
Tags: iss130 | polar graphics | apantac | bluefish | cinedeck | focalpoint | mediaproxy | stardom | storagedna | Polar
Contributing Author Polar Click to read or download PDF
State of the Nation
Dick Hobbs - new

On the most recent occasion I was trimmed, my hairdresser had just returned from a holiday in Hawaii.

Where she thought she was going to die. She thought this because the state’s emergency alert system was triggered, sending messages across all available platforms, for 38 minutes, that a ballistic missile was about to strike. That, I suspect, is the sort of thing that casts a pall across your holiday.

Why did it happen? Essentially it happened because an operator selected the wrong menu item. “I feel very badly from what’s happened,” he is quoted as saying, in a somewhat mangled version of English which may at least in part explain his difficulties with menu items.

Tags: iss130 | alertsense | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
Reliable back-up at the Music City Bowl
Sam Gordon WLEX – LEX18 – is the NBC affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky, and part of the Cordillera Communications Group. As a very popular local station with a broadcast area that covers 40 counties across central Kentucky we have a big commitment to news, broadcasting more than seven hours of live programming on a typical day.
Tags: iss130 | wlex-tv | dejero | engo | gobox | cellsat | Sam Gordon
Contributing Author Sam Gordon Click to read or download PDF
Why OTT needs multicast ABR
Damien Lucas Last year, Netflix’s global revenue reached $11 billion, with 24 million new names added to its subscribers’ list. Viewers are certainly making their preferences heard – and voting with their remote controls to show that over-the-top (OTT) content is here to stay.
Tags: iss130 | ott | abr | adaptive bit rate | cdn | dsl | lte | Damien Lucas
Contributing Author Damien Lucas Click to read or download PDF
Six steps for award winning sound design with Jungle Studios
Chris Turner Few can argue that great sound design is one of the most important elements to any moving picture. Mute most horrors, and the difference in fear factor will be enormous. Visualize Jaws or Star Wars, and John Williams’s iconic score will instantly come to mind.
Tags: iss130 | jungle studios | fairlight | blackmagic design | davinci | Chris Turner
Contributing Author Chris Turner Click to read or download PDF
TV Futures, Tales on Location
Georgia Thirtle If I think back to last May, I was just finishing my second year at the University of Portsmouth, studying Television and Broadcasting, and winding down for the summer. Then out of the blue I got a message from my course leader, saying I might be getting a call from someone who was a location manager working for Raider productions, you know, the production company behind the upcoming Tomb Raider film, I mean, what!?
Tags: iss130 | portsmouth university | tomb raider | cci tv | ccitv | Georgia Thirtle
Contributing Author Georgia Thirtle Click to read or download PDF
How IP-based KVM can improve workflow in broadcast control rooms
John Halksworth One of the most significant shifts the broadcast industry has seen over recent years is the adoption of IP technology as a standard infrastructure across the entire broadcast workflow. IP provides a network suitable for routing audio, video and control around a broadcast facility and is providing the answers to many industry challenges.
Tags: iss130 | kvm | adder | adderlink | alif100t | John Halksworth
Contributing Author John Halksworth Click to read or download PDF
Innovation in cameras moving to 4k
Tony Valentino For a number of reasons, wireless camera links needed time to migrate to 4K. However Broadcast Sports International, BSI, designs their own cameras and builds their own hardware and their transition to 4K is already complete.
Tags: iss129 | bsi | ref-cam | wireless | 4k | Tony Valentino
Contributing Author Tony Valentino Click to read