TV-BAY Magazine

To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version 11.1.0 or greater is installed.

Buyer’s Guide to cellular uplinking by Ronen Artman, Garland Partners Ltd C ellular 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 88 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE TV-BAY074FEB13.indd 88 11/02/2013 16:55