Thomson Video Networks today announced it is working with Florida-based system integrator Broadcast International Group (BIG) to build a groundbreaking new television service for Haiti as the country recovers from the devastating earthquake of 2010. Haiti's sole cable television station was destroyed in the disaster, leaving all but capital city Port au Prince without local television until the new service goes live in May 2012.
A new license-holding company, Digital Satellite System (DSS), will operate the service under the brand name NUtv, and the decision to specify an advanced technical solution from Thomson Video Networks for the headend allows DSS to overcome the challenges of bringing a high-quality service to the whole nation, despite continuing difficulties with national infrastructure.
NUtv will offer 116 channels -- believed to be a record for a terrestrial TV platform -- over a DVB-T2 SFN network using six VHF frequencies. Each of these channels will carry dual audio. Bandwidth of 29,995 Mbps is available per frequency, and extremely efficient statistical multiplexing is essential. The headend handles a mix of video sources from Europe and the United States in both PAL and NTSC, with IP transport from the headend to the transmitters. To increase DSS revenues, international advertising is substituted by local advertising on 20 of the channels, with automated triggering and local logo insertion.
"This is an exceptional, innovative architecture, with a very large number of channels and incredible efficiency thanks to the latest Thomson technology," said Ana Maria Sagastegui, president of Broadcast International Group. "Superior MPEG-4 compression and VBR statistical multiplexing make it possible to carry so many channels, and the advert insertion workflow is highly optimized, with FlexSplice ensuring that picture quality is maintained even when splicing in the statmux pool. It's a cost-effective and easy-to-maintain architecture with only three key components and secure, straightforward CAS-system integration. We hope that with this new world-class infrastructure Haiti's broadcasters will be able to lift the country's spirits after the dreadful catastrophe it suffered."
For DSS, BIG is deploying Thomson Video Networks' ViBE EM1000 quad MPEG-4 SD encoders for the compression and logo insertion, with NetProcessors handling multiplexing, seamless splicing for ad insertion, scrambling, and SFN and DVB-T2 adaptation, to produce the six broadcast-ready multiplexes. A Sapphire server provides the advertising insertion facility, and Thomson's FlexSplice algorithm handles the switching between VBR and CBR encoding during advertising replacement. Thomson's Jade acts as the EPG server, and an XMS network management system provides headend configuration and monitoring, with interfacing to the CAS system.
The project is being rolled out in three phases. By the end of April 2012, Port-au-Prince will be receiving 116 channels of sport, entertainment, news, and educational programming from French, English, and Spanish-originated channels, in addition to seven locally produced channels. During July-August, coverage for the rest of Haiti will be switched on, and in H2 2012, 20 HD channels will be added to the line-up.
"This kind of project could not have been conceived until very recently, but with Thomson Video Networks' new technological developments, together with highly skilled and experienced integration services from BIG, Haiti can now benefit from a terrestrial television service that is among the most advanced in the world," said Mark Renfroe, Thomson Video Networks' vice president and managing director for the Americas.