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The Unity 550-2
Advancing Private Satellite Broadcast Networks
by Kamy Merithew, Vice President of Marketing & Gary Pelkey, Vice President, System Architect WEGENER

Designed for live broadcasts within satellite-enabled private networks, WEGENER’s new Unity 550-2 Enterprise Media Receiver offers many unique features.

The Unity 550-2 supports native MPEG-4 (h.264). This technology is a dramatically improved and efficient video coding method when compared to MPEG-2, the legacy standard for video broadcasting compression. The Unity 550-2 supports standard definition and high definition video as well as DVB-S2 modulation, the next-generation digital television standard for satellite broadcasting, superseding the established DVB-S.

Strong Market Demand

Prospective customers for the Unity 550-2 span a wide use range: gaming, faith-based worship, education, government, medical, and retail. The ideal client for the Unity 550-2 is an operator who needs to broadcast live video via satellite within a secure, private network environment. More importantly, network operators looking for dynamic addressability and the ability to control multiple live broadcasts will find new opportunities to serve their audience with the COMPEL network control system. This control system is a key feature within WEGENER’s Unity line of satellite receivers.

Powerful Network Control

With COMPEL, network operators are able to remotely monitor and manage hundreds or thousands of individual field deployed Unity receivers from a central operations site. Operators can configure, troubleshoot, and even fix individual field units from the remote central operation site. This results in a hands-free satellite downlink operation. In addition to minimizing downtime, COMPEL allows operators to reconfigure their network instantaneously, a crucial element when broadcasting live events.

Increased Efficiency

Even with the most advanced industry standards supported, the Unity 550-2 is also backwards compatible with MPEG-2 and DVB-S. This new product is positioned to replace the Unity 550-1 and Unity 500 satellite receivers.

The step up from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 video compression, and from DVB-S to DVB-S2 modulation means the next-generation Unity 550-2 Enterprise Media Receiver is more efficient than its predecessors. This saves broadcasters money by slashing their bandwidth usage by approximately 50 percent. In real world terms, private network operators will now be able to cost effectively launch more services than previously possible. They can now easily accommodate multiple standard definition video channels, or more importantly, offer their audience a true, high definition viewing experience. By supporting multiple standards, the end product becomes far more attractive for operators expanding into new markets while continuing to support legacy audiences. Plus, using the same Unity 550-2 receivers, operators can convert to high definition video without the need to upgrade receivers.

Live IP Multicasts

WEGENER’s Unity 550-2 can pass multiple IP video streams to low-cost, addressable WEGENER IPTV decoders within a facility over a local IP network. The unit offers operators more opportunities to launch low cost-per-monitor solutions for live broadcasts. Additionally, the Unity 550-2 can accept streaming video via IP multicast and decode it natively.

Gaming Example

The Unity 550-2’s capabilities are particularly relevant and applicable to the global gaming industry. This is also known as simulcast, pari-mutuel broadcasting.

When players are placing bets, simulcasts must be live. Superior video and quality of service must be offered so audiences can clearly observe the race. Pari-mutuel program distributors also benefit when they have the ability to accurately schedule access to video signals from multiple racetracks. COMPEL allows for more than 6,000 operator-determined criteria to filter which unique, addressable receivers on the private network have access to which live event. This tight control makes possible a variety of business models as well as protecting revenue and ensuring compliance with local gambling regulations.

Customers who place Unity 550-2 receivers in their gaming locations—such as off track betting facilities, casinos, and sports bars—can now employ HD-ready flat panel displays and HDTVs to present the races. In an increasingly competitive gaming environment, offering HD video, as well as additional live events, makes wagering on races, poker games, and sporting events even more attractive and compelling to the general public.

Kamy Merithew is Vice President of Marketing for WEGENER. Her focus is on strategic product planning, from product placement and pricing to advertising and promotion.

Gary Pelkey is a System Architect for WEGENER and has worked at the company for 22 years. Prior to joining WEGENER, Gary worked for Loral, a manufacturer of military avionics equipment.