MediaOne plays key role in HD expansion of San Francisco sports market

Broadcasters like ESPN, FOX Sports and others rolling production trucks to San Francisco this season for San Francisco Giants coverage in HD will find a new first-mile 270Mb/s fiber-optic service for backhaul transmission of games.

Frank O’Connor, MediaOne’s director of engineering, said that his company, which represents the Giants in working with and managing broadcast teleproduction units, installed the fiber as an affordable alternate to satellite transmission.

In 2003, there was one game done in HD (from San Francisco). The very first ESPN HD game was between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Giants in April. O’Connor said that it is expensive to transmit on satellite, because of the truck and satellite time.

Fiber offered an affordable alternative, he said, explaining that his company was helped immensely by the telcos making available 270Mb/s as a first-mile option. He said that, until recently, a DS3 was the only alternative and it was quite expensive.

MediaOne charges no more for the HD fiber-transmission service than it does for SD, he added.

The way HD transmits from SBC Park is straightforward. HD teleproduction trucks take a 1.5Gb/s signal, compress it and encode it for transmission down the 270Mb/s fiber. MediaOne designed and installed the transmission infrastructure to take the truck’s 270Mb/s feed, monitor it and transmit it to the Vyvx point of presence (POP) in San Francisco from which the backhaul is done.

This week, MediaOne completed the installation of another 270Mb/s transmission path for HTN, a New York-based service provider, which will be used for the FOX Sports Bay Area HD coverage of the Rainbow Games.

The other HD transmission challenges for sports stadiums and arenas are signal return from camera locations and internal distribution to club boxes and other large screen displays.

Even though SBC Park opened in 2000, no provision was made for high-definition signal routing. MediaOne currently is discussing HD options for those services with stadium management.

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