LEXINGTON, KY.—WLEX–TV is part of the Cordillera Communications Group and the NBC affiliate for Lexington. As a local station with a broadcast area that covers 40 counties across central Kentucky we have a big commitment to news, broadcasting more than seven hours of live programming a day.
Sam Gordon stands in WLEX-TV’s production truck, which was installed with the CellSat system for backup reporting.
Five years ago, we looked at bonded cellular links to support our field reporters doing weather and live sports. We knew it would enable our teams to get to a story quicker and accelerate our live-to-air production in the field.
The quality and user interface of Dejero’s blended IP network connectivity technology beat all other manufacturers. We purchased several kits and now use Dejero’s EnGo and GoBox mobile transmitters in the field and receivers at the station. The systems have worked brilliantly but there were occasions when we reported outside the metro area or where there were large crowds where cellular networks became congested and unreliable. So we needed a transmitter solution that would provide instant connectivity.
Just before NAB 2017, Dejero showed us a new concept it had worked on with Intelsat: the ability to blend Ku-band satellite with bonded cellular connectivity. We installed the Dejero CellSat system into our new truck in October 2017.
With CellSat on board there’s no need to bring in specialist operators or pre-arrange a satellite slot. You simply deploy the dish and it connects on demand—but only when the cellular signal isn’t strong enough. Blended CellSat data charges are managed and billed as on demand alongside the regular cellular charges by Dejero for a single, clear operational bill.
Just before the new year we deployed CellSat to cover college football’s “Music City Bowl” in Nashville, Tenn. We wanted to enhance NBC’s coverage with a 90-minute special wrap-around post-game, added live. We used two cameras, one connected to the in-vehicle encoder/transmitter using CellSat and the other connected to a Dejero GoBox and using cell.
Nissan Stadium, where the game was played, usually has solid connectivity, but with nearly 70,000 fans turning up for the game we figured the cells could get overloaded, so we needed a backup. CellSat gave us extra confidence that we wouldn’t lose connectivity. It worked perfectly for our operator. Back at the station, we couldn’t tell whether the video was coming in via satellite or cell; the picture quality was that good. The latency was also just like any other cellular shot we’ve done.
We’ve also taken CellSat out for storm tracking and so far the satellite backup hasn’t been needed for this. That’s the great thing about the CellSat system, you don’t have to use the satellite if you don’t need it.
Now we can confidently broadcast live from virtually anywhere, safe in the knowledge that if the available cellular bandwidth deteriorates, CellSat will automatically blend in Ku-band IP satellite connectivity to boost bandwidth so we can get high-quality live shots to air while saving time and money.
Sam Gordon is a 27-year veteran at WLEX-TV. Contact Sam at email@example.com.
For more information, please visit www.dejero.com or call 519-772-4824.