Reliability, flexibility and ease of use are the key requirements when covering the news and live events, especially when the location could be anywhere. Connectivity is one of the biggest concerns in the field when the pressure is on to capture a key event – if you cannot establish a reliable transmission path to send your video back to the broadcast studio, there is no story.
Connectivity technologies such as bonded cellular, microwave and satellite systems all have their relative merits and challenges, and broadcasters have a great deal of experience in choosing the solution that most suits their needs. But there are tradeoffs between transmittable locations, setup time, and cost, as well as factors such as weather conditions and terrain to consider.
Cellular connectivity is fast to deploy and cost effective, but reliant on coverage provided by mobile network providers. Metropolitan areas typically provide the best coverage, but the cellular networks can get congested as more production crews vie for the same bandwidth. The general public also competes for the same bandwidth, so if at a location where crowds start sending photos or streaming video with their smartphones, the networks can become overloaded. Signal strength can also be challenging when a story is in more remote or rural areas and the available bandwidth only allows low bitrate streams, or no stream at all.
Satellite technology, historically the traditional choice for broadcasters on location, is very consistent and often relied upon for critical live coverage of major events, but comes with increased costs, complexity, and administration time. In general, satellite time needs to be booked in advance and in defined time slots. At a big news story, just getting a slot when you want it can be a challenge. Editors of the six o’clock news are rarely impressed when the only slot you can get is at seven.
Meanwhile, microwave technology is also reliable, but a story can occur beyond its range, or in a challenging location where line of sight is obstructed. Similar to satellite, inclement weather may impact the ability to cover a story.
No single delivery technology is perfect and they all have their relative strengths and weaknesses. A far better solution would be to combine the best attributes of these technologies to benefit from their respective strengths and give broadcasters better choice, depending on the situation.
What if you could choose when to use cellular, when to use satellite or a combination of both? Or even better, to have a system which chooses for you – intelligently optimizing connectivity to transport live video economically without compromising on quality or reliability.