Making the Right Switch


Are broadcasters ready to move around contribution HD video at uncompressed data rates of 1.5 Gbps?

Frank Luperella, an industry veteran well versed in the satellite and fiber technologies that are used to transport audio and video signals, hopes so.

As president of upstart Azzurro HD, a new HD video switching hub located in New York City, his goal is to make it easier than ever for broadcasters and other content distributors and creators to maximize the quality of HD video. Luperella discussed his new company and the future of HD content distribution.

Q: What exactly is an HD switching hub?

A: Think of it as a central office like the phone company has but for video. You can dial an area code and number and then the central office completes the call. Well it’s the same thing for video: the video-switching hub provides a meeting point for video communications. And just like you wouldn’t want to have a direct line connecting you to every person you call on the phone you don’t want a direct line for video communication.

Q: So why New York?

A: I’ve been in the business since 1989 and for 17 years New York has been my major focus. And while to date there hasn’t been much of a need for HD switching that will change, especially as we get closer to 2009. And with Verizon launching a tariff for a local loop that has 1.5 Gbps you’ll start to see more switching of HD.

Q: What makes your switch unique?

A: The whole plant is HD enabled and can handle 1.5 Gbps with wideband routers and quality control.

So we’ve built an all-digital facility that can help purists deliver uncompressed HD at 1.5 Gbps. We aren’t targeting IPTV or streaming video to cellphones or iPods. We want to give our customers the best quality video they can get.

Q: It sounds like a great idea to deliver uncompressed video at 1.5 Gbps but what happens when the content goes off the local loop?

A: It’ll be compressed. That’s one of the reasons the marketplace is just not ready and we’re a little ahead of the curve. But within the New York market we can deliver uncompressed HD signals.

Q: But if it ends up getting compressed before being sent to viewers why use uncompressed services?

A: Everybody would love to get their asset, like a ballgame, back to their facility uncompressed because the asset is as crisp as it can be and is in its purest form. And that can help in after-market use.

Q: I know you’ve just started but what’s next?

A: Right now we’re building a facility in Northvale, NJ where we’ll also offer content management services. We’re working with a partner, Videobank, to build servers and digitize tape content so we can hold content for our customers on an interim basis. We’ll also start branding globally because this is a gateway hub for the rest of the world.

‑‑Interviewed by Ken Kerschbaumer