Responding to growing interest in transmitting HDTV
content, satellite-service provider Inmarsat launched its BGAN X-Stream product
in the Americas
on June 10.
The BGAN product, which stands for Broadband Global Area
Network, launched at the end of April in Europe, the Middle
East and Africa. It offers connections of
at least 384 Kilobytes per second and as high as 450 to 460 Kbps for customers
that have better lines of sight to their satellites, said Inmarsat North
America business director Frank August.
Inmarsat already provides services for a number of
broadcasters and news organizations, including the BBC
and CNN, allowing journalists to stream high-quality video via satellite with
just a laptop and camera.
As those organizations launch HD channels and feeds, they
are also increasingly interested in transmitting high-definition content.
"Our customers and some broadcasters are looking for a
solution with higher bit rates," August said. "We're just on the cusp of having
HD trials and discussions."
The service's bit rate is too slow to transmit live HD
content but August sees the potential for transmitting files for airing later.
A maritime version of Inmarsat's BGAN has already been used
to transmit HD content by the organizers of the round-the-world Volvo Ocean
Race. That contest began in October and enters its final leg this month.
Each boat is equipped with HD cameras to capture video at
all times and has a media crew member who compiles and sends out high-def video
packages, as well as e-mail bulletins, blogs, photos and other materials from
terminals on the boat via Inmarsat's FleetBroadband satellite service, which
provides up to 432 Kbps of connectivity for data and voice services.
"This is the first year for this," August said. "The
organizers wanted fans and the audience to see more of what was happening on
the race. In the past, the race was sort of invisible to the rest of the world.
This allows them to bring back video to the Web site and deliver some stunning
high-definition footage throughout the race."
While the fastest speeds available from FleetBroadband
isn't enough for live HD feeds, it allows the crew member to transmit the
content via Inmarsat's satellite systems. "A 10-minute clip might take 30
minutes to transmit," August said.