Ascent Media Expands Uncompressed HD Services

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Ascent Media Network Services has upgraded its New York City facilities to handle uncompressed high-definition signals and has signed up its first three clients -- Fox News, NBC and All Mobile Video -- for uncompressed HD video transport.

“As the distribution opportunities for HD started to rapidly expand over the last year and a half, it was important for us to modify our platforms to be able to deliver and receive HD programming from our clients,” said Peter Brickman, managing director of content distribution for North America for Ascent Media. “With the modification of our switching facility and our teleports we are now capable of not only delivering compressed but uncompressed HD signals as the fiber providers are offering more and more uncompressed fiber services.”

As part of the upgrade, which began in March 2007, Ascent added a NVision NV8256-Plus Expandable Digital Video Router, which has a 1.5Gpbs switching fabric and 160x160 input/output capacity, according to Ascent vice president of sales Lisa Roberts. “We now can provide SDI, ASI and uncompressed HD connections with that router,” she said. “We’ve also added what was needed for monitoring HD services, with HD wave form monitors, transport beam analyzers and HD monitors so we can appropriately handle and analyze that traffic.”

Ascent is using the Tektronix WFM700 and WFM7100 series Waveform monitors, as well as Sony and Marshal HD video monitors.

In Manhattan, Ascent has facilities at 60 Hudson St. and at 545 5th Ave., with operations run out of 5th Avenue location. “It is a sizeable operation with over 600 local connections,” Roberts said. “We are connected to every major broadcaster,” as well as many cable networks, media companies and corporate studios.

While the majority of their customers are still using SDI connections, the company is seeing increased uncompressed HD services.

“Fox News, NBC and All Mobile Video were the first three to use it but we are seeing more and more interest because the cost of an uncompressed circuit is not much more -- maybe 10% more -- than an SDI circuit from a local carrier,” Roberts said. “Once you have an HD circuit, you can also send SDI and ASI down it. So it gives you the ability to do pretty much anything.”

“We’re well past the point of HD being a science project,” said Brickman. “With the migration of broadcast over to a digital platform, they are basically saying goodbye to analog. Why invest in standard def digital when they know they’re going to have to make a major commitment to HD?”

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