The new fleet, entirely designed and integrated by NEP Connect’s in house project team, is based on Mercedes Sprinter and Vito vans with 1.2m and 1.0m NEP Connect uplinks. The antennas are the lightest, most flexible vehicle mounted satellite solutions in the world. The reduced weight, compared to competing antennas, allows for a higher spec system to be installed in a smaller 3.5T vehicle, thus avoiding the 56mph speed restriction of the 5T vehicles and allowing the swiftest response to breaking news stories. On board equipment includes HD, SDI, fibre and wireless camera inputs as well as highly specified vision and audio mixers. Each (ITN) truck is dual path capable with redundant transmit chains and features a generator with battery-powered UPS backup. An enhanced dual modem system ensures the most efficient and reliable use of bandwidth for IP over satellite.
ITV and ITN will be the first to benefit from NEP Connect’s extended provision of IP services which sees the launch of a new iDirect hub at MediaCityUK to work alongside its existing Milton Keynes iDirect services. This new infrastructure provides greater resilience and additional new functionality.
NEP Connect’s in-house software development experts are working on the upgrade of its proprietary uBook system to enable the dynamic allocation of bandwidth between DVB and IP carriers, ensuring that the satellite capacity usage is maximized at all times. This effectively transforms ITN and ITV’s new SNG fleet into “news bureaus on wheels”, delivering “source to studio” file based content alongside breaking live news. NEP Connect’s uBook is a fully integrated and secure booking system that works seamlessly with any satellite capacity, enabling broadcasters to effortlessly provide live coverage on-demand with uPod uplinks.
“Working in conjunction with ITV and ITN, NEP Connect has once again revolutionised the design of SNG trucks. By developing, delivering and operating our own technology we have been able to create a seamless solution which includes market-leading satellite antennae; an integrated online booking system; downlink services; and satellite and fibre distribution services. The deployment of this new truck signifies the delivery of the first major SNG fleet operating in Ka Band, enabling us to continue to deliver the excellence that has enabled ITV and ITN’s award-winning news coverage.” David Meynell, Managing Director, NEP Connect
Malcolm Smith, Head of Newsgathering Operations at ITN, said “This is the third generation of SNG vehicles that we have leased from NEP Connect and each generation has been marked by an advance in operational capability through the latest technology. This new truck is the first hybrid combining HD video over satellite with IP connectivity. This combines the essential reason for SNG vehicles which is the provision of reliable live inserts to programmes from anywhere in the UK, while the IP facilitates our move to an integrated file based newsgathering workflow using the latest solid state memory ENG cameras.”