ENG at NAB

IP connectivity sparks interest at the show.
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The NAB Show opened this year about two-and-a-half weeks after Sprint-Nextel filed its latest update with the FCC on the status of 2GHz Broadcast Auxiliary Service relocation. A major takeaway from the filing was reflected on the exhibition floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center: The industry is on the downhill side of the relocation project.

That's not to say that a lot of work doesn't still remain. However, the net effect of having more than 50 percent of the 2GHz BAS licensees in possession of the radios, controllers, antennas and other equipment needed to complete the job is allowing both engineers and vendors to focus on other newsgathering and RF concerns.

Newsroom on the go

One such concern is extending the reach of the newsroom to the field, essentially transforming a reporter's laptop into just another terminal on the newsroom's network. Internet connectivity brings this concept to life and, as an added bonus, gives budget-conscious stations a way to communicate with and control technology in the vehicle, thus reducing technical headcount required in the field.

This concept isn't new. Broadcast Microwave Services, Microwave Radio Communications and Nucomm have shown ENG IP-connectivity solutions for at least three years. However, new this year was the heightened interest by broadcasters in ENG IP connectivity. As John Payne IV, VP of engineering for Nucomm and developer of the company's Messenger IP encapsulator/decapsulator put it, “We might have been a bit ahead of our time a few years ago when we rolled this [Messenger] out, but with the BAS project winding down, we've seen a lot of broadcasters beginning to recognize the value of connecting via IP with their ENG vehicles.”

Besides highlighting Messenger, Nucomm introduced its ProQ Low Latency Audio Multiplexer designed to work with the ProQ Receiver to create a complete digital IFB. The system can multiplex up to eight IFB channels, requiring just 200kb/s of the ATSC signal. Audio is encoded with MPEG Layer 1 and Layer 2 audio encoders, multiplexed with GPI, Ethernet and RS232 signals and inserted into the transport stream.

RF Central introduced its new Sky Definition HD Traffic Camera System, a turnkey package combining a mountable Canon BU-45H HD camera, handheld laptop running IP remote control software, cables and an outside weatherized cabinet with an HD RFX-CMT-II 2GHz transmitter.

Furthering its IP newsgathering products, Vislink News and Entertainment, a new company that brings together Advent Communications, Link Research and Microwave Radio Communications, introduced the MRC AMG2100 Advanced Mobile Gateway. The bidirectional ENG gateway provides IP connectivity over a variety of wide area network paths, including 8VSB, WiMAX, EVDO and UMTS for file transfer and remote control. The company also introduced the MTX5000 ENG transmission system, which combines SD/HD encoding, software-definable multimode modulator, IP encapsulation and transport and remote control.

Broadcast Microwave Services introduced its new DiversaTracker diversity tracking antenna system. The system combines the company's diversity DR6000 receiver with a six-way antenna system, including five panel antennas providing 360-degree coverage and a high-gain GPS-steered antenna. Available for both SD and HD links, the antenna system is aimed at applications where it's necessary to track a source, such as a blimp-mounted camera and transmitter.

GMS introduced the Messenger 2 Decoder (M2D), rounding out its M2T COFDM camera-back transmitter system introduced last year. The M2T relies on AVC H.264 encoding and data slicing to deliver robust performance with no more than 45ms latency. The new companion demodulator fully supports AVC H.264 and the company's data slicing approach.