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38 TVBEurope IBC Wrap-Up

Transmission possible: A lightweight Ka-band system in the Outside Exhibits at IBC

DSNG use, which currently offers 10Mbps in both directions, but should be upgraded to 20Mbps by the end of the year. The service can be used across Europe, North Africa and main centres in the Middle East. At IBC, Vislink had what is claimed to be the world’s smallest and lightest Ka-band portable satellite terminal. The Advent Mantis MSAT Man Portable Data Terminal weighs 12.5kgs, and can be set up by one person in under five minutes (using an on-board GPS sat finder to align and lock-on to the satellite). It also supports Ku and X bands. “Recent studies have shown

that the use of Ka-band is up to 30% less expensive than BGAN transmission, which means that an MSAT system could pay for itself in one year,” claimed Ali Zarkesh, Vislink’s business development director for satellite communications. “The expanding availability of

Cost-cutting satellite news

By David Fox

KA-BAND HAS been heralded as ‘a game changer in satellite news gathering’, with equipment costs reduced to about 15% of Ku-band, a much smaller, lighter antenna and considerably easier access to booking bandwidth, making it more flexible and less expensive. “You can transmit much higher data rates from a very small antenna that is significantly less expensive,” said Dawson Managing Director, Ian Dawson. Where a Ku-band transmission chain to carry a 20Mbps uplink might cost £75,000-£80,000, a Ka-band system would cost about £10,000 (not including encoders, which would be the same for each). “The vehicle can also be

smaller, and the antenna weighs less, saving fuel, and you can operate the whole thing from batteries (for 24 hours), so you don’t need a generator,” which again saves money, reduces maintenance and avoids some health and safety issues in built-up areas.

Although the first KA-SAT

satellite from Eutelsat was launched in May 2011, it is only in the last few months that Ka-band has really taken off, and according to Dawson it is now being used in some way by every UK broadcaster. For the Olympic Torch relay Ka-band was used for coverage by the sponsors (such as Coca-Cola) and the games organiser LOCOG, although the BBC used Ku-band (both supplied by Dawson).

“Ka-band is the future,

certainly for newsgathering,” he said. “It’s the first step-change in satellite broadcasting in a long time. There is so much capacity available, and it’s so accessible — you can book online.” With Ku-band, broadcasters

have to buy a lease, but Ka-band can be bought ad-hoc, meaning that small broadcasters can halve their uplink costs, while larger broadcasters can reduce theirs by 20-40%, Dawson

calculates. A good example of this is where a broadcaster wants to have its 10 DSNG trucks transmitting simultaneously during the main evening news. With Ku- band this requires 10 leases, but with Ka it just requires an hour booking for each. “It’s this flexibility that is really attractive to a lot of broadcasters,” he said. LiveLinx, a live broadcast service from Ireland’s AirSpeed Telecom and Digital Space, provides broadcasters with a mobile SNG vehicle or flyaway terminal equipped with a LiveLinx MPEG-4 uplink, using a dedicated IP connection from the AirSpeed Telecom PoP, including web, VPN access and telephony from the remote location. “The availability of the

Liam O’Kelly: Ka-band is

“a game changer in satellite news gathering”

Ka-band satellite platform for broadcasters heralds a game changer in satellite news gathering,” said AirSpeed MD Liam O’Kelly. “Now, for the first time, we have small terminals capable of delivering excellent broadcast quality signals at a much lower cost than was possible with Ku-band.” There are currently three services on Eutelsat using Ka-band: the domestic Tooway TV with up to 6Mbps uplink (which some broadcasters, such as Sky News are using); PDN (the Professional Data Network), aimed at business-to-business use; and NewsSpotter, for

Ka segment space is what is making this possible. Eutelsat, Yahsat, Avanti, ViaSat and other satellite communications companies have recently launched satellites specifically for Ka-band use so the Ka-band footprint is expanding rapidly. Europe, North America, the Middle East and Russia are already covered and initiatives are under way in Australia and Latin America.”

On the spot NewsSpotter was launched in March, and bandwidth can be reserved online by news crews using a self-booking application or pre-booked for planned use and guaranteed reservations. Users log-on to Eutelsat subsidiary Skylogic’s OSS portal, enter their user terminal number, location, time slots and bit rate required on return and forward links. Multiple manufacturers have

developed suitable terminals. Flyaway terminals typically require manual pointing and come in backpack or flight case configurations, weighing 5-10kg, with dish sizes of 60-75cm. Vehicle compact terminals are motorised with autopoint capability in dish sizes of 75-90cm. Rugged vehicle mounted terminals are available with dish sizes from 75-120cm. It uses the KA-SAT High

Throughput Satellite, which has a total capacity of more than 70Gbps.

One user is Denmark’s TV2, which deployed it for the French November2012

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