Blending Cellular, Ku-band Satellite Networks Equals Reliability, Says Bogdan Frusina

Bogdan Frusina.

IP newsgathering specialist Dejero and global satellite service provider Intelsat have partnered to offer the TV industry a new service that blends Ku-band satellite and cellular network bandwidth into a one-button-push service for IP news contribution from the field.

Dejero’s CellSat seeks to overcome network congestion problems and spotty cell network coverage to provide news crews in the field with reliable bandwidth.

CellSat combines up to six cellular network connections and an Intelsat Ku-band satellite connection using Dejero’s network blending technology, which dynamically allocates bits across each path to ensure reliable, low-latency IP packet delivery.

Dejero held an embargoed press briefing yesterday. Following the briefing, TVNewsCheck conducted an interview with company founder Bogdan Frusina about CellSat.

In this interview, Frusina explains why the service is necessary, how existing Ka-band users can get on board, what Intelsat brings to the party and how the new service will add another option to relieve network congestion at big events like political conventions.

An edited transcript:

Why are you launching CellSat?

Today, broadcasters have to deal with challenges where you have congested network environments. This solution fixes that. It gives you additional capacity from a satellite network to give you additional bandwidth in a congested environment to ensure you can move video.

You are also dealing with the situation where you have no cell coverage. In that case, you would normally have to book a satellite. With our approach, at the push of a button you have that same technology without the cumbersomeness of booking satellite time.

The other part is you have to look at the operational costs. The operational cost of traditional satellite when compared to this solution is quite expensive. It’s the time and effort to lineup a shot, to make sure you have the proper booking system and you’re in the window you need to be.

As we all know, news happens fluidly, and if it’s a big story it can be very fluid when you are going to go on and off [the satellite]. Therefore you have to book a window that is very large and very inefficient. With the CellSat, solution you only pay for the gigabytes you use.

You can be on the satellite 24/7 and not pay one penny if you don’t use any bytes. So it solves quite a few issues.

Can you elaborate a little bit on the charges as relates to blending bandwidth sources?

When you create video at 5Mb/s, you’re creating it at pretty clear rate. That’s approximately 2.2 GB/hour.

When you are using a non-blended solution, you are effectively transmitting that data across both the links. So you are paying the cell providers and the satellite provider. In a blended environment, it’s one single price per Gigabyte as a blended solution.

What is the latency?

On the satellite-only system it’s about two seconds. If you are dealing with cell and satellite availability at the same time, that can drop to about 1.5 seconds.

CellSat uses a Ku-band satellite connection. What do broadcasters with Ka-band terminals face if they wish to deploy this service?

The very important thing to understand is if we are looking at current Ka solutions what happens is you purchase a certain amount of capacity from a Ka-band provider, and that capacity is available to you at all times during the shot. At the same time, you are also using cellular. So, you are actually paying for both. In our case, you are paying a blended price. You are not paying for one and the other on top of that.

If you have a Ka-band system, depending on the dish size, it is very important to have the option to have a Ku-band [antenna] option from the vendor with the same aperture –be that 1-, 1.2 -or 1.4-meters. If it does, we simply convert it by adding a BUC [block upconverter] and a feed arm to the dish as well as the modem required by the network.

How does a broadcaster control whether the satellite or cellular network is used for any given shot?

It can be done manually or automatically. It’s comes down to a matter of costs. Whenever you implement the satellite part of the combination, it’s more expensive. So, this gives the customer the option to select between a satellite-inclusive or cellular-only solution.

That is the only part the customer is doing. So at the beginning of the shot, the customer decides I am happy, I don’t want to pay anymore, or no, I want the guaranteed shot, so I am willing to pay the blended costs to ensure that the shot gets delivered.

Why did Dejero partner with Intelsat on the CellSat offering?

IntelSat is a global satellite provider. They are one of the most forward-thinking satellite providers in the world today. They tend to look at things in the reality, which is providing ubiquitous connectivity in the field.

They understand moving that connectivity towards one thing, and that’s called IP. The market is converging towards an IP network, and it’s an IP network that will run anywhere between fiber, satellite and cellular connectivity as one single connection or blended as an option.

So the blended solution between the two companies is a natural fit. Ultimately it gives flexibility to our customers in handling their applications over the network.

Will the availability of CellSat diminish the need for the hotspots at big events, such as political conventions or the Super Bowl, that are setup to allow broadcasters to overcome network congestion?

Ultimately what this does is give us the ability to add an additional hotspot and service from Intelsat. It actually will allow us to deploy these hotspots a lot quicker because just like the broadcasters who have trouble with connectivity, so do the carriers.

The carriers don’t have connectivity everywhere, and it is very hard to actually bring it in. It has to be booked months in advance.

In some cases, last minute decisions are made, making it very difficult to roll out connectivity for a particular event. We won’t stop doing the hotspots for additional availability. This will simply make it much simpler in a lot more situations.

You mentioned fiber before. Does that play into this Intel partnership on CellSat?

Yes, one cool thing with Intelsat is they have a global satellite and fiber network as well. It’s one of the largest fiber networks around on top of their satellite ability. That gives us the ability to have direct access into their nodes, and carry information, for example, across the ocean very quickly.

For instances, it’s actually pretty easy to get public internet from Verizon; however, if you are a European broadcaster, your challenge will be to backhaul content, like coverage of the U.S. elections, across the ocean via the internet because the traffic during that time will be significantly higher.

In one instance last year, one particular broadcaster in Denmark experienced a lot of dropouts during their election coverage just because they tried to use the public internet for their backhaul.

One of the benefits of Intelsat is you can actually use a private fiber network to carry the payload across the ocean to ensure the bandwidth is always available, which the public internet sometimes can’t deliver.

So, is the CellSat offering international?

It is launched as of Aug. 23 and is available to purchase from Dejero in the United States. As far as global deployment, Intelsat and Dejero are evaluating the deployment schedule and will deploy more regions through 2018 and may run into 2019 in some regions. But we are trying to focus on the 2018 for key deployment areas such as Europe.

(Editor’s note: This is the latest installment in TVNewsCheck’s series of interviews with top executives at IP newsgathering companies. Previous interviews include: “Remote Revolution: IP Transport Is Key To Reducing Production Costs, Says Paul Shen” and “LiveU Readies Support For Trump Inauguration Coverage.”

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