Olympics: Ericsson encoding NBCU Content

Around the International Broadcast Center, amid the myriad production units, trucks and multiple video streams springing forth from NBC Universal's comprehensive coverage of the winter Olympics in Vancouver, are hundreds of contractors and other technical support groups that make the 17-day multi-faceted TV show on ice possible. Ericsson (formerly known as Tandberg Television) is among those firms tapped to provide video encoding for NBCU's massive production and post-production infrastructure.

Ericsson is providing its own technical staffs in Vancouver and at NBCU's base in New York City. Dave Mazza, NBCU's senior vice president of engineering for the Olympics, said his networks are accustomed to working with many of the same firms for each Olympics (alternating between winter and summer every two years), such as Ericsson. "Having worked closely with Ericsson at previous Winter and Summer Games, we knew that we could count on them to deliver an advanced solution for our most ambitious winter coverage plans ever," Mazza said in a statement.

Among the Ericsson hardware/software now being deployed by NBCU are MPEG-4 AVC HD encoders, IP adapters, receiver/decoders, multiplexers and modulators, as well as control and management systems. Ericsson systems compress the HD content into simultaneous contribution/distribution feeds to help maintain optimum HD video/audio reproduction from original venue to hundreds of final content-to-home providers.

This is the first winter games that NBCU, which owns exclusive American rights to the quadrennial events, is covering totally in HD (1080i). Some of the most popular sports, such as figure skating and hockey, can often be covered live in HD because Vancouver is in the West Coast time zone.

Ericsson's encoding operations (HD/SD) were also used for the 2008 games in Beijing and the 2006 Olympics in Torino.