While very few stations offering local news in high-definition have yet to make the move to offering true HD content from the field, a growing number are looking to upgrade their satellite news gathering (SNG) and electronic news gathering (ENG) operations to HD, said Dan Dalton, director of new product development at Fujitsu Computer Products of America. And, to do that, stations are increasingly using MPEG-4 encoders and decoders to reduce the bandwidth requirements needed for HD content.
CBS, which launched its evening news program in HD in late July, is already using the Fujitsu’s IP-9500e MPEG-4 AVC encoder and “has been very aggressive and forward looking” in its HD plans, Dalton said.
But increasingly local stations are also looking to MPEG-4 encoders, which allow them transmit content with about half the bandwidth.
“Satellite and electronic news gathering is an important growth opportunity this year for us,” Dalton said. “Affiliates want to offer more than just HD from the studio. They want to bring back satellite and ENG feeds as well.”
MPEG-4 encoders have the advantage of allowing stations to save bandwidth so they can transmit HD content without upgrading their satellite capacity. “You can use the same bandwidth you used to use for the SD uplink to get an HD signal out,” Dalton said.
By cutting bandwidth requirements in half, Dalton added, stations and networks are also increasingly turning to terrestrial Internet protocol transport. “We’re seeing a lot more people using IP for backhaul at 10 to 12Mbs,” he said. “That is something you couldn’t do with MPEG-2 because it just took way too much bandwidth.”
The low latency rates of about 300 milliseconds for Fujitsu’s IP-9500e MPEG-4 AVC encoder is also an advantage for live shots from the field. “It allows you to do things live with back and forth communication without noticeable delays,” Dalton said.
To capitalize on the growing SNG and ENG market, Dalton said that Fujitsu are getting ready to release a new firmware revision for the IP-9500e encoders that will include features targeting the SNG and ENG market.