05.24.2006 08:00 AM
KRON tests WiMax for news contribution

KRON in San Francisco is testing a local WiMax network for possible use by its single-person video journalist (VJ) news crews to contribute files and footage from the field.

The test was announced as part of a white paper delivered at NAB2006. In “Files to video journalists, a case study of organizational change at KRON 4 in San Francisco,” KRON chief engineer Craig Porter and Fred Fourcher of Bitcentral in Irvine, CA, lay out the transition the station has undergone since September 2005 from tape- to file-based news production and from traditional ENG news crews to the VJ model where one person reports, shoots and transfers material from the field.

According to the paper, the momentum in growth of broadband Internet options gives broadcasters new alternatives for file transmission. Currently, KRON VJs send most of their stories and footage from the field via wireless or wired broadband connection.

Stories are saved as 8Mb/s MPEG-2 Long GOP files and submitted via broadband connect to the station. SD stories typically take from three times to six times the story duration to transmit, the paper said.

The test of WiMax, which is based on IEEE 802.16, may show the standard, along with more efficient compression techniques, has a role in transmitting large high-definition files from the field.

According to the paper, a Bay Area WiMax service provider currently has 20 towers delivering coverage to the metro. Maximum distance from user to tower is 20mi. The service provider sells full duplex data transmission from 1Mb/s to 7Mb/s and provides “a pilot carrier to establish a connection with the tower,” the paper said.

As envisioned, a VJ would set up a 12in square flat antenna on a tripod and point it at a local tower. The WiMax system would automatically assign a channel to the VJ for file transfer. According to the paper, because the VJs in the field and the station share the same network, “it is possible to use this type of connection to contribute live video.”

To read the NAB2006 paper in its entirety, visit www.bitcentral.com/documents/KRONOrganizationalChange4.28.06.pdf.

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