Advanced Television

Ericsson unveils its Voyager II

February 28, 2011

By Chris Forrester

Broadcasting is changing, especially in the Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) and Outside Broadcast arena. TV technology specialists Ericsson has also taken a fresh look at its DSNG kit, and “thrown everything out and started again,” in the words of Fabio Murra (Product Manager/Solution Area TV). The dilemma facing any DSNG crew is serving the client, of course, in the shape of the broadcasting task on the day. Murra explains that it may be true news gathering, or a sports OB, or perhaps an OB at a music event.

“We need to re-think news-gathering system design in a way that gives operators much more flexibility, both in terms of presentation and delivery. There’s also the all-important issue of operational costs. As news services across the globe play an increasingly important role in the daily viewing habits of TV consumers, and round the clock dedicated news channels offer more live HD coverage from the scene, bandwidth fees are taking an ever-larger bite out of the budget,” says Murra.

“Voyager II is our solution, and covers not just satellite but fibre and IP connection, and also can cover HDTV and now 3D and even ‘full’ 3D in one unit. The market is changing, not just in contribution, but everyone is looking at not just bigger images, but images to more devices.”

Murra says that while consumers are happily embracing MPEG4-AVC, it seems that many SNG operators (and their teleports) are still trapped in legacy MPEG2, and fearful of the potential onward interoperability challenges. “The capability to encode to 10-bits for example is not usually associated with a conventional news event but is very good for sports, which immediately increases the versatility of any news-gathering system built around it. Also, a lot of news organisations have a closed network through which their vans and uplinks feed into multiple receive sites, so changing codecs across the board is not a trivial matter.”

“Additionally, even though fibre might be available a great many operators don’t altogether trust the IP world so will have satellite as a back-up, or the other way around. We took all this into account with our design, with flexibility being our main goal and answered with this new platform.”

“We have a slimmer unit, lower power consumption, greater flexibility and delivering satellite multiplexing, decoding and all across a multiple of streams,” adds Murra.

The new Voyager II unit features an integrated satellite modulator offering high order DVB-S and DVB-S2 modulation on both IF and L-Band outputs. But ultimately it goes beyond conventional definitions of DSNG, as it nimbly embraces other contribution platforms in the quest to simply give crews the best possible tool for the job.

“For instance, the proliferation of fibre networks often provides a viable alternative to satellite, so we’ve made sure that Voyager II can implement other algorithms such as JPEG2000 and AVC-Intra. While these codecs are less bandwidth efficient, they provide lower latencies and compatibility with many studio file-based workflows. MPEG-4 AVC and legacy MPEG-2 codecs can also be used concurrently.”

The unit is being unveiled at NAB, and “is very competitively priced!” says Murra.

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