While the days may be gone when reporters made mad dashes to the nearest payphone to report late breaking news, the need to quickly connect to a station’s studio from a remote location remains.
Of course cell phone call-ins are probably the most common. The reporter simply dials up the studio which patches the call through a digital telephone hybrid to the mixing board. Quality depends on the cell carrier, how much traffic is on the network, and can be lacking. But it’s quick and relatively inexpensive, and in good coverage areas, fairly reliable.
If the reporter needs to connect a cell phone to a recorder or mixer in the field, there are small portable adapter devices that can plug into a cell phone’s headset/mic connector or interface via Bluetooth. The quality is the same as a cell phone.
For better quality and voice separation between the caller and the person called, there are other devices that take in a professional microphone and provide mixing capabilities and an interface to connect to a cell phone. Often there are output jacks for connection to laptops or audio recorders. With a wired internet, Wi-Fi or 3G connection to the laptop, the reporter can file the complete story remotely.
This brings up the possibility of not using cell service at all, but rather using devices that provide remote connections using a variety of means, including wired or wireless IP networks directly to the station or via an intermediate server, 3G, satellite, public internet, and plain old telephone service.
Bypasssing the cell network can provide higher bandwidths and with that, higher quality audio, but sometimes alternate services—especially public Wi-Fi—may not make as a reliable connection as a cell phone or for that matter a good old wired phone. So it’s good to have choices in your gear bag for whatever situation you may find yourself in.
An audio tip of the hat to Denise Lockridge, JK Audio; Ted Alexander, Telos, Omnia, Axia; and Kelly Clark, Comrex.