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Hamlet Speeds New U.K. Network Launch

Hamlet’s MicroFlex Mach2

CARDIFF, WALES—For the past year I’ve been serving as technical consultant to Comux UK, the awardee of the OFCOM license to provide the broadcast infrastructure and multiplex system for delivering the “Local TV” network within the United Kingdom. (OFCOM is the independent regulator and competition authority for the communications industries operating within the United Kingdom.)

The Local TV network is another first for the U.K. broadcast sector in terms of content distribution, and our team has been busy designing, building and commissioning the new infrastructure and network operations center (NOC) that’s needed to get the Local TV services launched.

One of the items necessary for commissioning and testing of the new network facilities was a portable SDI signal analyzer that could be used at the Comux NOC and—very importantly—also out in the field at the various facilities of Local TV licensees.

I should mention that in the Comux model, the company provides a designated handoff point at the remotely located contribution studios into which Local TV licensees can direct their SDI video program feeds.

From that point on, it’s the responsibility of Comux to move these out-of-house signals on through the contribution link infrastructure to the NOC, and from there to multiplexing operations and then to the transmitters that are used to get the signals to the viewers’ homes.

This infrastructure covers a lot of territory and as time is precious and expensive, Comux didn’t want to have to make second or third visits to a remote location to identify and correct a problem if it could be otherwise avoided. Their basic philosophy has been to “get it right first time.”

Comux chose Hamlet’s MicroFlex video/ audio analyzer as it was determined to be exactly what was needed for the tasks at hand.

The handheld Microflex is very compact and completely self-contained, and we quickly found that it could provide the engineers with a very high degree of confidence in measuring the quality of the SDI signals at any point where checks had to be made, or where troubleshooting operations proved necessary.

The MicroFlex is also a big time saver, as it switches on and fires up instantly without system boot-up and initialization operations. Another very positive feature is the unit’s ability to provide “eye” measurement displays as part of the package. Another big plus is that it’s designed to work with a number of optional modules to allow its functionality to be precisely tailored to the user’s individual needs. There’s even an “SD-SDI with composite video” module available for applications where backwards compatibility in measuring analog video signals is needed.

The Microflex units deployed by Comux have really proven to be invaluable as they’ve helped the company quickly locate and rectify any transmission issues. The MicroFlex analyzer has also provided a high degree of confidence in the SDI signal infrastructure and that’s really central to the success of the Comux Local TV operation.

Arshad Rasul is managing director at Blue Octagon Ltd. and is a member of the Comux board. He may be contacted

For additional information, contact Hamlet USA at 866-442-6538 or