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120 GHz Microwaves Provide Realtime HDTV at Olympics

Most broadcast microwaves operate in the 2, 7 and 13 GHz broadcast auxiliary service bands. Unfortunately, the bandwidth available in this part of the spectrum requires use of video compression for transmission of high-definition TV. The latency introduced by the compression can cause problems in live broadcasts. At the Beijing Olympics, Fuji Television Network Inc. and NTT Corp. are testing a possible solution for live feeds from the games. The two companies previously demonstrated simultaneous wireless transmission of multiple HDTV video channels without delay, using 120 GHz equipment. At this year’s Olympics, they are testing a compact, lower power 120 GHz transmitter that can be powered by batteries.

The equipment is intended for transmission of HDTV signals from special live feed locations at the Beijing Olympics to the International Broadcast Center over a range of about 1 km without using video compression. The system is supposed to provide live reports in HD from almost all of the Olympic Park area. The 120 GHz radios can handle data rates up to 11.1 Gbps, allowing transmission of up to six uncompressed HDTV signals.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.