NEP Connect has an unrivalled pedigree in the delivery of end to end HD SNG services for a number of high profile clients, including 20 years of working with ITV and ITN. It owns and operates the largest uplink fleet in Europe, with over 500 MHz of permanently leased satellite capacity and a comprehensive connectivity infrastructure which includes two large broadcast teleports/MCRs and a national fibre network. Combined with the expertise and experience of its engineering teams and its network of bases across the UK, the quality and breadth of services it offers are unrivalled. NEP Connect already has the lightest, most flexible vehicle mounted satellite solution in the world with the uPod product. The reduced weight compared to competing antennas allows for more baseband equipment to be installed in smaller units and maximizes the full potential of the SNG vehicle.
ITV and ITN led the way with SISLink back in 2004 with the provision of automated uPod antennas which changed the way satellite news gathering was delivered and, since then, uPod has continued to evolve and develop for both the broadcast and government markets. For this new contract NEP Connect has produced a high stability lightweight Ka band antenna that will be included in all of the SNG vehicles and will provide the core of the ITV / ITN service.
An exciting new development to NEP Connect’s service offering is the extended provision of IP services, of which ITV and ITN will be the first beneficiaries. A new iDirect hub at MediaCityUK will work alongside existing NEP Connect iDirect services from Milton Keynes, providing greater resilience and additional new functionality. This includes a SIS uBook system that dynamically allocates bandwidth between DVB and IP carriers, ensuring that the satellite capacity usage is maximized at all times. This effectively transforms the ITV and ITN fleet into “news bureaus on wheels”, delivering “source to studio” file based content alongside breaking live news.
The multi-satellite hub will provide iDirect-based IP services to well over 100 NEP Connect uplink vehicles with 20 new Ka band uplink units to be delivered from 2014. Creating a DVB SNG service on SES Ka band satellite capacity differentiates NEP Connect from the competition, pushing them to the forefront of the market, making innovative use of technology to simplify and reduce cost of their customers’ contribution and delivery.
The service will utilise NEP Connect’s new 8.1m Ka band antenna at its MediaCityUK teleport, with smaller Ka band antennas installed at ITV’s regional bases and ITN’s headquarters on Grays Inn road, providing downlink of signals and local IP connectivity.
ITV and ITN will be the first customers to use this service, reinforcing their reputation of being early adopters of innovative new technology, offering both cost and delivery benefits maximising fleet size and UK coverage.
David Meynell, Managing Director, NEP Connect said “Having been heavily involved with the first major automated service for ITV and ITN back in 2004 SIS has an in depth understanding of their need for high quality, efficient SNG services delivered by the latest innovative, cost-efficient technology. ITV and ITN are pioneers, changing the face of the SNG industry, and together we have pushed the boundaries further by committing to the first major SNG fleet operating to Ka Band capacity. I am immensely proud of the efforts of our technical, operational and commercial teams who have got us to this position and look forward to the roll out of the brand new fleet in 2014, and to continuing to deliver the excellence that has facilitated ITV and ITN’s award winning news coverage.”
Paul Stevenson, Director of Technology for ITV News said “ITV News is pleased to replace its SNG trucks with a modern, agile and capable new fleet. This fleet will be key to serving our national and regional news coverage well into the future, able to bring live coverage where the stories demand. The IP and HD capabilities of this new generation of trucks add a whole new strength to our coverage. We look forward to a productive relationship with SIS, our established SNG partners.”
Keith Cass, Director of Technology for ITN said “We’re delighted to have agreed this deal, which allows us to continue working with the very latest in satellite newsgathering technology. We value our long relationship with NEP Connect and are excited by the opportunities offered by the new fleet of SNG’s which are equipped to support both DVB and IP based workflows. These new SNG’s, operating over Ka satellite space, will ensure we remain firmly at the cutting edge of newsgathering operations.”