Executive Spotlight On... Stefan Jucken
Business Development & Marketing AmericasND Satcom
One of the difficulties of offering live video broadcasting revolves around bandwidthsometimes there simply isnt enough of it!! One of the mobile IP streaming solutions to help broadcasters and media companies is from ND SatCom. SatMagazine had the opportunity to discuss the technology with Stefan Jucken
Stefan, thanks for spending some time with us. Content streaming is on everyones minds... would you explain the role video streaming plays for broadcasters today?
Video streaming today plays an important role, especially in fast newsgathering. To be the first newscaster with a breaking story and to deliver that information immediately to audiences is the primary goal of any media company. Simply being the first was enough to be competitive. There was little or no concern regarding actual video quality.
However, todays audience is becoming more and more demanding. Broadcasters must look for solutions that balance the viewers demands with economic and operational aspects. Helping with this is IP-based video streaming with its new compression technologies. Broadcasters and media companies can now scale from videophone-like quality and lower resolution web-streams to full professional broadcast quality for High Definition (HD) signals.
Another advantage of an IP-based transmission is to mix live portions of a story with pre-recorded ones, depending on the desired quality of the content and available bandwidth. For instance, the live introduction to the story by a reporter can be streamed with Standard Definition (SD) resolution, while the main portion is pre-recorded at HD resolution and sent back to the newsroom via video file transfer.
I understand theres a new solution supporting mobile IP streaming. Whats the strategy behind this decision?
The solution is a logical add-on to ND SatComs portfolio of Media Network Solutions. Broadcasters can network their TV stations as well as fully automate their SNG (Satellite News Gathering) and increase their operational efficiency through the integration of SNGs into the news production workflow.
An all-IP package was developed that includes three major components: a lightweight VSAT antenna (SkyRAY Light), the SkyWAN VSAT platform with a full set of IP functionalities, and an advanced H.264 encoder for the highest video quality per bandwidth performance. The resolution can increase to full HD 1920 x 1080i with extremely low latency. This package is ideally suited to converting conventional camera vehicles by applying advanced satellite technology to mobile broadband ENGs (Electronic News Gathering) with professional video streaming capabilities. In addition to investment and operation cost-effectiveness, the mobile newsgathering system had to be installable on any existing news vehicle and easy to operate for reporters and camera teams.
Please expand on the technology features and key differentiators of the package.
The components represent the best of todays antenna-, satellite uplinking- and encoding technology. SkyRAY Light is quick to deploy without requiring vehicle modifications. SkyWAN is a multi-services platform for media-rich applications, of which video streaming is certainly the most challenging.
For the encoding, the team-up with KIRNexus, the encoder manufacturer, has resulted in a lighter, smaller, and more compact package. The client is able to control all subsystems via the touch screen of the encoder. This eliminates the need for an antenna controller or additional screen. By pushing a button on the touch panel, the fully automatic and highly precise pointing and network acquisition is initiated. Video streaming begins from the same touch panel and, additionally, the video stream can be monitored for immediate quality control and feedback.
How are users whose skills are focused on the editorial and story-telling needs going to become satellite technology experts? One of the core features is to be on air in less than 10 minuteshow does this work?
The vision has been to provide broadcast professionals with easy-to-operate equipment, even for the non-technical staff. And due to the character of fast newsgathering, an SNG operator may not be close by when the news breaks. Usually, when engaged with SCHEDULED transmissions, SNG vehicles are equipped with a technical SNG operator plus a camera team and an editor. When involved in fast newsgathering, such as an accident, fire and so on, the need to capture the incident arrives so quickly and there may be no technical operator available to assist with the feedthe camera team and reporter are on their own. Camera vehicles usually travel a further distance from the station and are faster to dispatch.
The benefit of this solution is that users do not have to become satellite technology experts. They are able to use the system with minimum training in a point-and-shoot environment. Camera operators and journalists are each able to focus on their mission and do not have to struggle with the equipment. The technology even enables them to complete editing in the field and to then transmit the story back in its final format. As a result, this whole process becomes tapeless.
The pointing algorithm has been optimized for fast pointing without sacrificing pointing accuracy. There is a built in, positive feedback mechanism that makes the pointing failsafe. Such ensures you always connect to the right network, within minutes.
When I consider bandwidth efficiency, easy operation, and reasonable initial investments, this solution also appears suitable for any number of other markets. Which synergies do you perceive with other verticals?
This mobile streaming solution will definitely be targeted to vertical markets such as emergency management, homeland security, border control, telemedicine and the defense sector. The key requirements of the applications in these areas demand customers obtain comparably high video quality at low bandwidth with full mobility.
For first responder teams and their command posts, situational awareness is the highest priority. Live streaming at a disaster location helps to assess the situation correctly and the appropriate rescue measures can then be applied. The solution can create an island of communication at the incident site and provide interoperability among the different, local talk groups.
The key differentiator of this ND SatCom solution is through SkyWANs mesh characterthe mobile unit becomes a star point, or field hub, with multicasting reach-back capabilities to more than just a single hubits capabilities include all stations in the network. First responders can be connected to their emergency response and command centers on a county, state and federal level simultaneously, as required. With all of the difficulties currently in the world, communication should be the least of our concernsthis solution does much to alleviate that barrier.