Idaho Falls station blazes trail for live, local field footage delivered via WiMAX

KIFI, the News-Press & Gazette-owned ABC affiliate in Idaho Falls, ID, is rolling out live, breaking news coverage from the field via low-bandwidth WiMAX broadband Internet connection to deliver news from surrounding communities and remote areas faster than previously possible.

At the heart of the new Wireless Internet Newsgathering (WiNG) is technology from Streambox, which includes the ACT-L3TM software encoder and an SBT3-5100 decoder. When teamed with broadband WiMAX connectivity, sufficient bandwidth is available to sustain live video streams for broadcast. The system is the fulfillment of a vision to deliver wireless Internet news, said Mark Danielson, general manager at the KIFI News Group.

KIFI's WiNG/Streambox solution is designed for easy setup and use in the field. The software encoder is deployed on a Windows-compatible laptop and streams video over a WiMAX connection at upload speeds of 2Mb/s. At the station, the Streambox decoder processes the signal for live, on-air broadcast. Streambox's ACT-L3TM compression technology incorporates forward error correction, which mitigates packet loss and network irregularities for video delivery.

The WiNG system is a first for KIFI and its viewers, enabling the station to broadcast live, breaking news from small communities and remote areas. Previously, viewers in these areas had to wait several hours for news crews to arrive on location, get the story, return to the station with the tape, and then air the video. That process translated into a communications delay that reduced the timeliness of news reports.

"For a small market such as ours, purchasing, outfitting, and maintaining a $400,000 satellite truck simply isn't feasible,” said Danielson. The WiNG capabilities, however, allow the station to deliver live field coverage “for a fraction of that cost,” he added.

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