Leading-edge cellular bonding technologies smooth the way for global news teams


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COVERING THE PAPAL SUCCESSION: Leading-Edge Cellular Bonding Technologies Smooth the Way for Global News Teams

By Bogdan Frusina

On February 11, Catholics all over the world were stunned when Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation – an event that is unprecedented in modern history. In response, global news organizations went into scramble mode to secure budget and deploy resources to cover one of the highest-profile breaking news stories of 2013. In order to provide high-quality coverage during the two-week chain of events that resulted in the election of the new pontiff, on-location news teams needed maximum flexibility and spontaneity. It was a situation tailor-made for the latest innovations in bonded cellular newsgathering technologies – products such as Dejero’s portable LIVE+ 20/20 Transmitter, which offers a powerful adjunct to microwave and satellite by reducing latency and the risk of signal loss.

To assist broadcast customers in maximizing their coverage of the papal succession events, Dejero offered several turnkey on-location ENG services in and around the Vatican. With at least half a million people expected in Saint Peter’s Square on key celebration days, we anticipated that existing cellular towers would be overwhelmed with traffic. As an alternative, we deployed a long-range private Wi-Fi network within the Piazza at Saint Peter’s Basilica that gave broadcasters the ability to transmit live video to any destination around the world from a variety of Dejero-powered mobile devices — professional transmitters, laptops, iPads®, and iPhones®. With this private network in place, Dejero customers were able to transmit live HD and SD content high quality and short latency, even if minimal or no bandwidth was available from the cellular networks.

In addition, Dejero provided customers with access to a rooftop terrace in downtown Rome with a panoramic view of the Vatican, offering an excellent backdrop for live shots and other video coverage of the papal succession. Participating broadcasters had exclusive access to a portion of the terrace and were supplied with power and a dedicated 6 Mbps Ethernet connection, as well as use of a LIVE+ 20/20 Transmitter for submitting HD or SD video directly over 4G, 3G, WiFi, or Ethernet connections.

Sky News is one of several prominent news organizations that took advantage of Dejero services to strengthen its live and recorded coverage of the events surrounding the Pope’s official resignation. Working with a two-way Internet dish and a Dejero LIVE+ 20/20 Transmitter, the Sky news team was able to bond the satellite signal to the Dejero private Wi-Fi network to transmit live HD signals directly to air, as well as to FTP recorded coverage in store-and-forward mode to supplement later broadcasts. Altogether, Sky transmitted at least 25 live shots using the gear, representing 100 minutes of airtime, and several hours of recorded footage.

“The system worked perfectly. The Dejero transmitter deals with bandwidth much more efficiently, and it provided a strong, consistent signal,” said Duncan Sharp, Europe cameraman/ editor for Sky News. “One of the best parts was the real-time feedback the system provided on bandwidth usage. We were able to see the strength of the signal at a glance and make needed adjustments, whereas previously we might not have known there was a problem unless our London ops center called saying they’d lost the picture.”

In the earliest days of Sky’s Vatican coverage, Sharp was working alone with only the two-way dish and the LIVE+ transmitter. He related that previously, in a similar situation, he would have had to rely on a fixed hotel Wi-Fi connection and a software-based encoder to store and forward recorded video. “Using software compression, it would often take 25 minutes to upload a three-minute package – so the real-time high-quality encoding of the Dejero system is a huge time-saver especially for fast-breaking news,” he said. “I also love the portability of the system; I can capture, edit, and upload my footage and then move on to the next shooting location without being tied to hotel Wi-Fi.”

Sharp is responsible for news coverage throughout Europe, so he often finds himself in areas without the most advanced 4G LTE cell service. The LIVE+ Transmitter gives him greater range and flexibility in getting high-quality video out of remote locations by pairing the satellite signal with the available cellular network for a much stronger and faster transmission. “The ability to come up live and turn the footage around very quickly is a big competitive advantage, especially since we’re serving more outlets now – online, radio, television, and handheld devices,” Sharp said. “It’s a rugged system, which is important in any mobile news situation.”

Since breaking news is no respecter of scheduling, pre-planning, or budgets, today’s news organizations must operate as nimbly and cost-effectively as possible to stay a step ahead of their competitors. These recent pivotal events in the life of the Catholic Church were no exception, and were closely followed by viewers around the world. It was a perfect showcase for Dejero’s cellular bonding technology in an ENG setting, enabling our clients to go live within minutes from some of the most scenic locations in Rome.

Bogdan Frusina is founder and chief technology officer for Dejero.


Tags: iss076 | catholic | pope | resignation | live broadcast | streaming | vatican | dejero | cellular bonding | global news | coverage | Bogdan Frusina
Contributing Author Bogdan Frusina

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