News remains a central genre for broadcasters, and as new markets and new delivery platforms emerge, broadcasters are expected to provide 24/7 coverage for rolling news channels and increasingly sophisticated websites. In an era of tight budgetary control, that means controlling deployment costs while responding ever faster.
Traditional methods for establishing live links — such as point-to-point microwave and satellite newsgathering (SNG) — continue to dominate. There are, though, newer methods based on IP delivery, and we are seeing these beginning to get a foothold in the contribution market.
Using an IP platform has a number of benefits, including:
- Cost: Because IP systems are used by pretty much everyone these days, hardware and connectivity are inexpensive and getting cheaper by the day.
- Universality: IP is a universal standard for transmitting data around the world, greatly simplifying operations from foreign countries.
- Bi-directionality: IP readily supports IFB and reverse communications.
- Enhanced communications: An IP platform can give journalists access to increasingly sophisticated newsroom IT systems and the Internet.
Today the most common IP platform is the range of 3G/4G bonding systems, which use multiple cell phone data channels to send and receive material. These are quick to set up, so they often work well as a first response solution. However, they can be unreliable, particularly at large events where the systems are competing for bandwidth with the general public. Bit rates are typically below those normally considered for even SD quality. The introduction of 4G has alleviated this a little, but as general uptake of 4G increases, the problem of network congestion is likely to re-emerge.
Another solution rapidly gaining traction is the use of Ka-band IP-over-satellite systems. Introduced to provide high-speed Internet connectivity to remote communities, these systems can also be used to provide HD broadcast-quality live paths, plus Internet and IT facilities, at a fraction of the cost of “regular” Ku-band SNG terminals.