Category Archives: Satellite

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.”

‘I Shot Halley’s Comet’ Revisited

I couldn’t help but think of an experience I had at Television Broadcast magazine in the mid-1980s while writing today’s feature article on the preparations local stations are making to cover the total solar eclipse Aug. 21.

At the time, I worked for Ron Merrill, an owner of TVB publisher Globecom Publishing and editorial director of the magazine.

Ron, whom I admired quite a bit, had purchased a nice telescope — I believe a Celestron, but I don’t remember for sure — in anticipation of the arrival of Halley’s Comet in 1986.

He would frequently come to work and report on the celestial wonders he gazed at through his new telescope while waiting for Halley’s Comet to arrive.

During one of those conversations, he suggested Television Broadcast run a contest to be dubbed “I Shot Halley’s Comet.” As I recall, readers were encouraged to submit their photos and videos of the comet as it approached. In exchange, they would receive a T-shirt with “I Shot Halley’s Comet” emblazoned on the chest.

I piped up and suggested we also attempt to organize a video crew to shoot the comet and uplink it to stations around the country so they could pull it down and broadcast to their viewers.

As things turned out, however, there was one major problem with that plan. The appearance of Halley’s Comet in 1986 was a total bust. Sure, it showed up, but it was nowhere near as spectacular as it had been hyped to be.

As a result, our uplinked video didn’t appear to be much more than a few, tiny shimmering pixels — hardly airworthy.

Oh well, live and learn. That’s why I made it a point to ask about what stations are planning for a weather contingency when reporting on the total eclipse in August.

NAB Show Blue Man Group Announcement Brings Back Memories

During the Harmonic press conference April 22 at the NAB Show, Ian Trow, senior director, emerging technology and strategy at the company, announced Blue Man Group would be making a couple of appearances at its booth during the show.

It seems Harmonic had worked with the entertainers on a 360 VR experience, so their presence at the booth made sense in a Vegas sort of way.

The announcement immediately took me back to another entertainer I stumbled upon making a presentation at a satellite service provider’s booth during a long-ago NAB Show.

That entertainer was the late Professor Irwin Corey, the world’s foremost authority, who died in February at age 102.

I think I first saw him when I was a very young boy on the Steve Allen Show with other funny men like Louis Nye, Tom Poston and Don Knotts.

To hear the professor explain the intricacies of satellite communications in his trademark wandering, convoluted style was just as delicious as those comedic ramblings I remembered from my youth. I only wish I had a video of that NAB exhibit floor performance.

The more I think about his explanation, the more I realize that many of the booth visits I have had with vendors over the years at the NAB Show have been equally insightful.

If you are too young to remember Professor Irwin Corey, check out the video and imagine how he would have conveyed an explanation of earth stations, satellites and transmission. Enjoy.

The Switch Acquires Pacific Television Center

 

The Switch has announced the acquisition of Pacific Television.

The Switch has announced the acquisition of Pacific Television Center.

Video solution service provider The Switch in has acquired Pacific Television Center, a transmission and live production provider, the company announced this week. Financial details of the deal were not available.

The Switch also has received an equity investment from True Wind Capital to pay for the next phase of its growth, The Switch said.

The acquisition gives PacTV’s customers access to The Switch’s transport network and opens new markets in Australia, France, New Zealand and Singapore for The Switch’s customers, it said. 

Among the services the combined operation will offer are local, national and global fiber-satellite hybrid connectivity and distribution.

 The combined company will continue to offer FiveNines Service, which includes the Home Runs remote production solution and Inter-city on Demand (ICOD) transport, DownLinks on Demand satellite transport and satellite transmission services.

More information is available online.

 

M&A, Strategic Investment, Collaboration Abound at IBC 2016

IBC Welcome Pic

Collaboration and recombinations are taking many forms at IBC 2016.

IBC 2016 has seen the announcement of several interesting investments, acquisitions and strategic partnerships by vendors eager to improve their existing offerings, attack new markets or do a little of both.

Among the announcements:

Read On

Franken Explores The Lighter Side Of Going Live

While interviewing Bill Fesh, news ops manager at WFAA in Dallas, for today’s story on how two station news photographers used IP newsgathering tech to deliver live HD video from the midst of the sniper shooting in Dallas July 7, I made a passing comment about the 1987 ABC TV series Max Headroom.

In the show, the Edison Carter TV reporter character always seemed to be going live from the scene of breaking news, much like the way TV news photographers can go live nearly anywhere with IP newsgathering equipment.

Fesh agreed but said there was a much better TV foreshadowing of this trend: the at-the-time Saturday Night Live comic and now U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.).

What makes the Franken bits special and more appropriate, says Fesh, is the fact that the whole point was to poke fun at, and in the process acknowledge, the role technology was playing in TV newsgathering. Franken’s shtick was his newsgathering getup made him the “first totally self-contained, one-man mobile uplink unit in electronic news gathering history,” in the comedian’s own words.

While he said he was outfitted with a lightweight Sony camera on a Steadicam harness, the thing most people will remember is the ridiculous satellite dish affixed to the helmet on his head.

“As you can see, once again I have mounted on my head the 1.3-meter parabolic antenna which is aimed directly at a transponder on a Sat-Com satellite in geosynchronous orbit about 23,000 miles over Easter Island,” he said in one of the sketches.

I only bring this up because Fesh’s recalling of Franken’s SNL bits put a smile on my face. Maybe you’ll find Franken’s newsgathering antics funny, too, like this one where he’s reporting from the 1988 campaign trail during the New Hampshire primary race. Enjoy!

 

WTA Honors DataMiner Network Manager

The World Teleport Association, WTA, March 8 honored Skyline Communications’ DataMiner network management platform with the Teleport Technology of the Year award for 2016.

DataMiner provides teleport operators, satellite operators, broadcasters and cable networks, telcos and mobile service providers with end-to-end visibility and control over their entire network and operations, across vendor and technology boundaries.

DataMiner is used to manage SNG networks, sports contribution, broadcast exchange networks, studios, VoD assets, playouts, cable and telco headends, satellite uplinks, DTH, DTT, cable and telco plants, said Steven Soenens, product marketing director at Skyline Communications in a press release announcing the award.

Documentary Examines NASA UHD Channel

Harmonic has an out-of-this-world ultra-high-definition documentary — literally.

The company today announced it has published an online documentary about the making of NASA’s first ultra-high-definition (UHD) TV channel.

The documentary examines the technical challenges of putting the UHD channel on-air via satellite along with the space agency’s existing SD and HD channels.

To watch the documentary, visit the Harmonic website.

Inmarsat OKs Quicklink Software For Sat Fleet Use

Quicklink Windows Bonded Live Software is ready to use over on the Inmarsat global fleet of L-band satellites, the satellite communications service provider announced today.

The software makes it possible for broadcasters and others in the media to compress and transmit live video via the WindowsLive platform, it said.

The solution reduces the equipment broadcasters need to carry in the field. It is designed to work with multiple communications technologies, such as satellite, ADSL or cellular services, bonding them together to achieve the most stable connection possible, the release said.

It also provides an option to encode using the High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC) H.265.

Echoes From IBC: Eutelsat on UltraHD

IBC 2015 closed Sept. 15 in Amsterdam, but I suspect I will be reporting in the Playout blog on echoes from the show floor and conference rooms for the next few weeks.

First up is consumer attitudes towards Ultra HD in Europe. Obviously, TVNewsCheck is oriented towards the U.S. over-the-air television market, but perhaps there are some nuggets to take away from a survey of European consumers on their attitudes about Ultra HD conducted for Eutelsat by market reach firm TNS as well as data from GfK on the sale of Ultra HD televisions.

Presented at an IBC press briefing, the results reveal that consumers appreciate the improved quality Ultra HD offers and are willing to pay for it.

Survey participants identified image sharpness, an immersive viewing experience and vivid color as the main benefits of Ultra HD and said they would be willing to pay about $11 per month to receive UHD programming in their homes.

For the survey, researchers polled Italian, French and U.K. consumers in November 2014 and German, Polish, Russian and Turkish consumers in June 2015.

Participants also said they were willing to pony up between $1,100 and $3,350 for an Ultra HD set that’s in the 50-inch range.

Eutelsat also presented new forecasts from market research firm GfK on the sale of Ultra HDs.

Among the GfK predictions:

  • 200% growth in UHD set sales between June and December
  • 5 million UHDTVs sold by the end of the year in Western and Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East
  • 9.3% of TV sales in those regions will be UHDTVs by year’s end
  • By 2020, 70% of TV sales in Europe will be UHDTVs and 60% of all TV sales in the Middle East will be Ultra HD sets.