ENG at NAB: Part 1

The NAB Show opened this year about two and 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 more broadcast engineers and vendors to give greater attention to other newsgathering and RF concerns.

One such concern is extending the reach of the newsroom to the field, essentially transforming the laptop of a reporter working in an ENG vehicle 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. Microwave Radio Communications, Nucomm and Broadcast Microwave Services, have shown ENG IP-connectivity solutions for at least three years at the annual event. However, what was new this year was heightened interest among broadcasters in ENG IP connectivity. As John Payne IV, VP of engineering at 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 [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 the complete ProQ Digital IFB system. 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 2 audio encoders, multiplexed with GPI, Ethernet and RS-232 signals and inserted into the transport stream. Adjacent to Nucomm at the Vitec booth, RF Central introduced its new Sky Definition HD Traffic Camera System, a turnkey package combining a mountable Canon BU-45 H HD camera, handheld laptop running IP remote-control software, cables and an outside weatherized cabinet with an HD RFX-CMT-II 2 GHz 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 8-VSB, WiMAX, EvDO and UMTS for file transfer and remote-control support. 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 at the NAB Show. 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 with both SD and HD support, the diversity tracking antenna system is aimed at applications where it’s necessary to track a source, such as a blimp-mounted camera and transmitter at a sports event.

GMS introduced the Messenger 2 Decoder (M2D) during the NAB Show, 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 more robust performance of no more than 45ms of latency. The new demodulator companion fully supports AVC H.264 and the company’s data slicing approach.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.