New report sheds light on possible costs of using 4G connections for HD ENG contribution

Bonding four 4G wireless connections for contribution of live HD news from the field may one day soon offer an attractive alternative to traditional digital Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) microwave transmission, according to a new executive report from JVC.

According to Tore Nordahl, author of the new report, several factors are important to consider before adopting this new approach. Two of the most important are whether 4G coverage is available in areas from which news crews are expected to report and the cost of data plans that would be necessary. (Click here to listen to an interview with Tore Nordahl.)

While 4G coverage is still in its roll-out phase, projecting exact costs is difficult, Nordahl notes in the report. However, the author makes some assumptions that can be used to ballpark what HD ENG contribution via bonded-4G connections might cost.

According to the report, four bonded 5Mb/s 4G connections would be necessary to do live HD ENG contribution at a quality level consistent and/or easily upconverted to the level of HD quality being produced inside a studio.

Assuming a station requires 30 minutes a day of live HD ENG at 20Mb/s, about 112GB per month per HD ENG field unit equipped for 4G transfer will be required. Based on AT&T published rates of $60 per month for 5GB usage, 112GB per month would cost $1400, the report states.

That cost can add up quickly for stations deploying multiple field crews with the bonded-4G transmission capability. Six such live units would cost nearly $8500 per month just for transmission.

“Your current BAS microwave backhaul is not looking more attractive,” Nordahl notes in the report.

The report, “NEW Live HD ENG backhaul technology as early as 2011?” is thought-provoking and worth consideration. It should be noted, however, that the underlying premise of the report, namely bonding four 4G connections to aggregate 20Mb/s of bit rate, conveniently accommodates the 19Mb/s HD transport stream available from the JVC ProHD GY-HM790. Still, the report is objective in its approach and covers the topic thoroughly. It’s available for free from the JVC website.

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.