Iowa PBS Turns To Comark Digital Services For Upgrade of ATSC 1.0 Centralcast

Comark StreamProbe
(Image credit: Comark)

JOHNSTON, Iowa—Iowa PBS contracted with Comark Digital Services (CDS) for a complete upgrade to its centralcast ATSC encoding system.

Iowa PBS operates nine DTV transmitters that provide coverage of the entire state. The contract included upgrading the broadcaster’s legacy ATSC program encoders for its hub and spoke architecture and a full QoS/QoE monitoring solution. The software-based encoding solution supports ATSC 1.0 and 3.0, which will make it possible for Iowa PBS to transition in the future if desired, the company said.

CDS was responsible for program management and for supplying all of the materials for the entire project, as well as the factory integration testing, on-site commissioning and system training, it said.

Iowa PBS deployed the CDS TITAN Live encoder, which is capable of simultaneous MPEG-2, H.264, HEVC and HLS output formats.  Installed at the hub, the encoder was deployed in a 1+1 redundant configuration with AMS management of the redundancy, it said.

The architecture uses re-multiplexing to provide dedicated branded feeds to each of the Iowa PBS stations with the specific ATSC signaling / PSIP data.  For added security, CDS provided firewalls at the hub and each of the remote spoke DTV transmitter sites.  The existing fiber network connectivity was reused between the hub and the remote spoke transmitter sites, the company said.

For local test and remote monitoring, CDS deployed EdgeProbe Advanced 3, which monitor IP inputs and RF outputs to the transmitters. EdgeProbe also returns a TSoIP video sample back to the hub for confidence monitoring. CDS also supplied transport stream converters (TSoIP to SMPTE-310M) because the system needed to interface with existing legacy DTV transmitters, it said.  

CDS provided a complete confidence monitoring solution at the hub site for Iowa PBS.  Each remote spoke transmitter site returns confidence signals from the EdgeProbe that are collected and monitored via StreamProbe QoS and QoE. StreamProbe provides at-a-glance (live thumbnail mosaic) monitoring as well as ETR-101-290 monitoring. CDS also deployed GlobalViewer for the centralized management including live supervision and analytics reporting of the DTV signals from each of the transmitter sites, it said.

To prepare Iowa PBS for its future migration to ATSC 3.0, the hub was equipped with multiple MediaCast and SmartGate units. MediaCast processes live HEVC-DASH and NRT streams (datacasting, ESG, AEA) and is responsible for generating the ROUTE/MMTP signaling tables (SLT and SLS). SmartGate follows MediaCast and is the broadcast gateway that generates the STLTP which ultimately feeds the ATSC 3.0 transmitter via an IP connection. SmartGate defines the ATSC 3.0 services via PLPs. Both software products were deployed on a single server, it said.

CDS also was responsible for upgrading an existing 7GHz STL between the Iowa PBS hub site and the KDIN transmitter site. The new IPLink 3.0 system provides high-capacity, full duplex operation that supports ASI and TSoIP and is ATSC 3.0 ready for future use, it said.

More information is available on the company’s website.

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.