Sky News adopts next-generation newsgathering technology

U.K. broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) will deploy the portable Streambox ACT-L3 newsgathering solution at its Sky News bureaus, dramatically expanding backhaul options for live and recorded reports.

The Windows and Mac-compatible Streambox ACT-L3 newsgathering solution allows journalists in the field to transport high-quality pictures over a variety of low-bandwidth IP networks. Compact and rugged, the ACT-L3 will give Sky News journalists a higher degree of flexibility in delivering live coverage, said Sky News technology executive Bevan Gibson.

With the move to Streambox systems, BSkyB replaces outdated technology with an integrated solution for transmission of video via Inmarsat’s broadband global area network (BGAN) satellite network or over available IP networks, such as DSL, local Wi-Fi hotspots or hotel Internet connections.

Compared with BSkyB’s old system, which filled the equivalent of four suitcases, the new compact, lightweight system gives news staff much greater agility in following and covering significant events worldwide.

In a typical scenario, a BSkyB reporter and cameraperson will carry the plug-and-connect Streambox SBT3-7500 compact encoder or the Mac- or Windows-compatible ACT-L3 portable system along with a BGAN-compatible satellite phone.

Transmission of video and audio simply requires the camera to be connected to the encoder, which in turn is connected directly to the satellite phone. Front-panel controls facilitate transmission of signals via satellite to the Inmarsat earth station in The Netherlands and via a leased line to a Streambox Distribution Server at BSkyB’s West London facilities for real-time playout or recording.

The complete newsgathering solution includes portable and rackmount encoders and decoders, real-time and store-and-forward systems for field and bureau reporting, back-end systems for managing live video streams and back channel real-time communications systems. It also includes IFB servers, distribution servers, and store-and-forward subsystems.

The portable ACT-L3 encoders, in particular, will be used for real-time video transmission and for sending on-site edited news segments. Both video transport systems are built on the Streambox ACT-L3 codec and advanced proprietary video compression technology, which will allow BSkyB to use packet-based networks in the real-time delivery of full-motion, full-frame interlaced broadcast video and audio.

Advanced forward error correction and burst error correction manage, control, and recover packet loss and correct video-delivery irregularities inherent in satellite and IP-based networks.

BSkyB will also deploy the Streambox IFB Server and Client solution to simplify secure, real-time communications between control room or studio staff and field reporters. Low latency and low bandwidth requirements ensure delivery of six channels of balanced audio.

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