Verizon Launches New HD Service

New East Coast pipe could be boon for high-end video production
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New East Coast pipe could be boon for high-end video production


Verizon Communications has just released a new uncompressed HD digital video transport service in their Maine to Virginia service territory, available to customers via specified wire centers in a number of major cities. The "Hi-Definition Digital Video Transport Service" (Hi-Def DVTS for short), became available June 15.

"This is a compelling service offering for broadcasters, particularly since the pricing appears to be reasonable when compared to existing SDI/270 services," said Brad Gilmer, president of Gilmer and Associates, an Atlanta-based broadcast industry consulting firm. "Radio has gone to the model of collaborative production, where talent doesn't need to be all in the same place. With these new types of services being offered, I foresee that video production will be able to use the same operational model."

Local Loop transport has long been one of the slowest evolving and more expensive parts of a telecom network. Inside modern production facilities, 270 Mbps and 1.5 Gbps connections are relatively inexpensive and widely used. A surprising number of carriers compete to transport video services from one city to another by providing links that terminate in carrier "hotels" or "PoPs" (points of presence) located in many major metropolitan centers in the U.S. and around the world. However, the links that connect between the carrier facilities and the production studios are the domain of the local carriers, where cost can be high and the availability of services can vary from one block to another in the same city.


Rich Wolf, vice president for telco and distribution services at ABC Network, called the new service a "milestone" for hi-end video production.

"We have always believed that the best way for us to provide video connectivity between our locations is in the native baseband form of those signals," he commented. "We currently use baseband analog and 270 Mbps SDI circuits from carriers that serve a number of our facilities. Our goal has always been to transport HD video in its native 1.5 Gbps baseband format. Verizon is the first carrier that I know of to provide our industry with this service on a widespread basis; this is really a big milestone in local loop video transport."

There are a number of potential uses for this new service. One of the most basic applications is to connect between a broadcaster and a remote production studio. These links can also be used to connect to post-production houses or other frequent users of HD video signals. Because these links offer uncompressed transport, there is no compression step required, and these links can actually offer video quality that exceeds that of even the most popular HD tape formats.

These circuits can also be used to connect to long haul service providers, particularly those who use compression to transport HD signals over their system (as is the case with all satellite and almost all current long-haul fiber providers.) By using this service, the problems associated with concatenated compression between the long-haul link and the local loop (possibly on two ends of a circuit) can be avoided. One intriguing use of these circuits could be to deliver uncompressed HD final programming to a direct-broadcast satellite, CATV, or IPTV provider, thereby avoiding the need for those providers to decompress off-air broadcasts and recompress it into the format used for distribution to consumers.

Hi-Def DVTS offers one-way transmission of 19.39 Mbps compressed digital video defined in ANSI/SMPTE Standard 310M, or uncompressed 1.485 Gbps SMPTE 292M format signals. The signals are supplied to Verizon using standard 75-ohm video coax and connectors, so it is completely compatible with existing standards-based equipment. The service is Intra-LATA, which means that the start and end point of each circuit must be located inside the same Local Access Transport Area, as defined by the FCC; however connections can be made to other carrier circuits that cross the LATA boundaries.

It's also a tariffed service, which means that it is available to all qualifying customers within the service area at the same rate. The service has three main price components: a monthly recurring charge per circuit termination, a monthly fixed charge for each circuit, and a monthly charge that varies with the length of the circuit in miles. The service is available with contracts of varying terms, including month-to-month, 1 year, 3 year and 5 year, with the monthly charges decreasing for longer-term contracts. The minimum contract length is 3 months; temporary (short-term) service is not available.

A unique feature of this service is that the transport network automatically detects when customers input either 19.39 Mbps or 1.485 Gbps and chooses the correct means of transport.

"This is part of an emerging trend in video transport equipment where devices and networks automatically adapt to different signal inputs," said Brian Wilson, senior offer manager for Verizon, "thereby removing the need to pre-configure equipment and helping to prevent operator errors from interfering with critical production environments."