Local TV

A New Tune For One-Man Bands

Portable IP transmission systems aim at backpack journalists 5/03/2010 05:01:00 AM Eastern

AS BROADCASTERS deliver more content
across broadband platforms, they are also
increasingly looking to use Internet Protocol
(IP)-based transport as a way to bring video from
the field back to the studio, either for live streaming
coverage on their Websites or for inclusion in on-air
newscasts.

StreamboxCable networks and enterprising stations have
used video-enabled smartphones, Inmarsat’s BGAN
(Broadband Global Area
Network) broadband satellite
service and Skype videoconferencing
for years
to deliver low-resolution
video when a traditional
satellite or microwave link
isn’t technically or financially
feasible. The latest
trend in IP-based newsgathering
is taking 3G and
new 4G wireless data cards
from multiple carriers and
bonding them to increase
the throughput and quality
of service.

Several streaming specialists,
including Livestream,
Streambox and VBrick,
have developed such cellular
bonding technology and packaged it with an encoder
in a complete portable device. These systems
are perfectly suited to the new “backpack journalism”
model sweeping station groups like Gannett
and Hearst, where one-man-band reporters are sent
into the field with a handheld camcorder and laptop
to shoot, report and edit stories.

For example, Streambox’s new
Avenir product has an HD-SDI
video input and can combine four
3G/4G wireless data cards in a device
that fits in a backpack. Avenir
will ship in June and list for
around $15,000. It can achieve
a total throughput of up to 20
megabits per second over cellular
networks, claims Streambox “applications
evangelist” Ben Larson,
good enough to transmit HD video
in either the 1080-line interlace or
720-line-progressive HD formats.

The latest entrant in the IP backhaul
space is San Diego-based
Mushroom Networks, a venturebacked
firm founded by University
of California-San Diego professor
Rene Cruz. Mushroom Networks
has sold broadband bonding systems for several
years to enterprise customers looking to speed up
their data flow by combining multiple Internet access
lines. It is now focusing on the broadcast space
with TelePorter, a new product that can combine
four to eight cellular data cards from multiple carriers
and transmit H.264-compressed video at bitrates
of 2 Mbps and up.

TelePorter uses a new modeling technique developed
by Cruz called
Network Calculus. According
to Mushroom Networks
CEO Cahit Akin, it accounts
for variations in cellular networks
and delivers higher
quality of service and lower
latency than other bonding
technologies. Though
he won’t give details, Akin
says TelePorter is priced
similarly to other portable
IP streaming units, and has
already been adopted by
several U.S. and European
broadcasters.

TelePorter weighs about
five pounds, including an
Anton Bauer battery, and is
supported by a 1-rack-unit
receive device installed at the
station. It features S-video,
composite video and XLR audio inputs for connecting
directly to a camera, and can begin streaming at
the push of a button.

As Akin says: “For the photographer in the field,
we think the best user interface is no interface.”

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