Sometimes it takes a breaking news event to prove a new ENG technology. A recent example is KKTV, the CBS affiliate in Colorado Springs, CO, which was the first news station on the scene at the Waldo Fires and then provided 130 hours of continuous live streaming coverage of the major firestorm.
The station transmitted its coverage to viewers from hills and canyons around Colorado Springs, where typically it’s difficult to get a signal out.
Just before the fire, KKTV received a QuickSPOT automated satellite transmission system from On Call Communications to evaluate. QuickSPOT is combined with bonded cellular technology, allowing a satellite link to kick in when bonded cellular transmission fails.
“The automated satellite system helped us break the stories faster. Within minutes of arrival on the scene, our photographers were already sending live streaming video,” said Nick Matesi, general manager of KKTV.
KKTV said the QuickSPOT technology proved itself in the fire. As a result, the news department decided to make the system a permanent part of its live news coverage going forward.
On Call specializes in IP-based mobile satellite communications. The company owns, manages and supports its QuickSPOT IP based domestic Ku-band satellite network.
The company saw an opportunity to apply its automated satellite system to solving the inconsistencies in cellular coverage. The QuickSPOT satellite network provides satellite space in a manner very similar to cellular service plans; bandwidth is available on-demand, without scheduling, and is billed in one-minute increments. This bandwidth service perfectly complements bonded cellular as a way to back up live news shots when cell service is inadequate.
Since the ultimate goal was a reliable connection, On Call provided a dedicated Internet connection for the bonded cellular unit’s LAN port and then fine tuned encoder settings to make them work over the satellite connection. Dedicated bandwidth means the encoder has an exceptionally reliable IP link over which to transmit, removing fluctuations in network performance and decreasing latency as buffering requirements are minimized.
Ku band was the obvious choice to ensure access to reliable bandwidth. Links are designed with a 99.5 percent availability and provide the best choice for peak performance under all conditions, the company said.
Using On Call’s automated vehicle-mount systems, the automated antenna deploys in about five minutes and is logged into the IP network. Pre-configuring the baseband components allows for full automation enabling non-technical operators to comfortably operate the system.
With the addition of setting up a generator to provide power and turning on and connecting a bonded cellular unit to the system, total time to be on-air is consistently achievable in 10 minutes or less.
Allowing an extra five minutes for “real-world” mishaps such as initially setting up the antenna without a clear line of site to the satellite, a 15-minute time frame from park to live transmission is realistic, the company said.