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Sky News selects mobile satellite video equipment

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Sky News has selected satellite-based video and audio equipment to transmit live from the field in Southern Africa, Africa and remote areas around the world.

Sky News has been involved in remote newsgathering for some time now, but until recently its ability to cover breaking news was limited by the amount of equipment required to transmit video and audio from the field and by the quality of the images.
Anthony Glass, chairman of Satellite Communications (SatComm), the local Streambox distributor, said a number of Southern African broadcasters are already using the same Streambox/BGan for news gathering.
“The transport and setup of Sky News‘ old system compromised the agility of field crews and didn’t offer the picture quality that Sky felt was necessary even for embedded reporting,” he says.
Bevan Gibson, head of Future Technology for Sky News (BSkyB) based in London, says: “We now frequently hear from crews how much easier the integrated Streambox systems are to use than our previous solution, and have found that everyone – from engineers to camera operators to directors, producers and reporters – have learned quickly how to get the systems up and running.”
“The Streambox has provided much greater flexibility in our remote newsgathering activities. We can work with smaller crews and less equipment, which in turn enables us to respond quickly as a story breaks.”
Now a two-person first response team can get live video back to our headquarters earlier than ever before, and depending on the location and gravity of the story, we can send a follow-up team for support. Not so long ago, it was prohibitive, cost-wise and logistically, to capture and send high-quality images from some of the areas we’ve covered lately.
“To increase the depth and quality of our breaking news coverage, we replaced this technology with an integrated solution that facilitates transmission of video via Inmarsat’s BGAN satellite network or over available – and typically very affordable – IP networks such as DSL, local Wi-Fi hotspots or hotel Internet connections instead of other expensive networks,” says Gibson.
“With less gear weighing down our field crews, we have been able to put together special weeks of coverage from Iraq, the Caribbean and Iceland. In the past, with a less versatile solution, we simply wouldn’t have sent out a team to do that kind of live coverage.”
“The system stands up well to rain, snow and sun, and its flexibility in accepting a variety of inputs has been extremely valuable. The portable encoder, the size of a laptop, is used for both realtime video transmission and for sending news segments edited on location.”
“The newsgathering solution consists of a BGAN terminal, similar to a notebook computer, and a compact Streambox portable encoder. Transmission of video and audio simply requires the camera to be connected to the encoder, which in turn is connected directly to the BGAN terminal.”
“Sky News selected the Streambox because when tested it demonstrated that it provides superior quality and performance at low data rates. Features such as forward error correction and burst error correction – which mitigate packet loss – ensure excellent video quality and reliable transmission over satellite and IP-based networks,” says Gibson.
“Furthermore, the complete Streambox newsgathering solution is the only product we found capable of providing an end-to-end solution – encoding, IFB server and client, distribution, and decoding – that covers all of our bases when we want to run live broadcasts via broadband.”