Cordillera Communications will begin evaluating the performance of small, highly portable IP satellite uplinks next year to determine whether the technology can augment, or perhaps ultimately replace, more traditional approaches to ENG contribution.
The broadcast group, which is owned by Evening Post Industries and operates 13 TV stations in seven states, including seven in Montana, plans to acquire an IP satellite uplink that is small enough to fit into a vehicle, such as a Toyota RAV4, and satellite antenna that can be mounted to the vehicle’s roof rack, says Any Suk, VP technology at the station group.
IP satellite uplinking can complement the JVC GY-HM650 ProHD newsgathering cameras with built-in IP connectivity, which have been deployed at KBZK and KXLF, Cordillera’s CBS affiliates in Bozeman and Butte, Mont., respectively, says Suk.
An IP uplink offers an alternative to line-of-sight microwave links, which can be hard to establish in the mountainous terrain within the stations’ coverage area, he says. However, at least for the initial trial of IP satellite uplinking, other Cordillera stations will be chosen.
Suk says “the jury is still out” on whether or not this approach can ultimately replace traditional ENG trucks, but added that the systems offer some distinct advantages. “You can go to those valleys, literally where you need to put a satellite truck [for a live shot], and you can roll in with a news car,” he says.
“They are also less expensive on the capital budget side than an ENG truck,” he adds.
In the Intermountain West, it is not uncommon to find dead spots in cellular coverage, which contributes to the desirability of an IP satellite uplink, he says.
Cordillera is “taking a hard look” at systems offered by On Call Communications for the trial, says Suk.
(Note: In July, I reported that the ABC Owned TV Stations group is using IP satellite connectivity to ensure quality of service for its IP newsgathering from the field. See: “ABC: Ka-band Making IP Newsgathering Work.”)