The UK’s most exciting election in recent years deserves its most exciting election coverage ever, said John Ryley, director of Sky News. To ensure that its coverage is exciting, the broadcaster will be employing technology made by Israel’s LiveU, by now a veteran of many an election contest, as well as the go-to firm for broadcasters of top international sporting events, like the Olympics, the World Cup, and many more.
As the returns come in from all corners of the United Kingdom on May 7, Sky News will be posting staff at over 270 locations across England, Scotland, and Wales. Instead of dispatching 270 plus professional camera crews with terrestrial and satellite broadcast equipment – a very expensive proposition – Sky will use LiveU’s small form-factor solutions, which use cell networks to beam broadcast-quality images across the world.
LiveU, headquartered in the Tel Aviv suburb of Kfar Saba and with a US office in Hackensack, New Jersey, has been around since 2006, and is still the only company offering a remote uplink solution for broadcast-quality video without requiring a satellite or wired Internet connection. The company has hundreds of clients in about 60 countries around the world — among them Major League Baseball, the NBA, and NFL. The BBC, for example, has used LiveU devices for major events, such as the Queen’s visit to Ireland in 2011, the 2012 London Summer Olympics, and over 30 organizations used it last year to broadcast the 2014 World Cup.
LiveU’s transmission solution consists of up to 14 cellular (3G/4G — LTE/WiMAX) modems over multiple carriers, as well as multiple LAN and even BGAN satellite connections (as backup). The solution works with any camera, and the modems aggregate all data connections simultaneously to achieve high bandwidth and smooth transmission, even as cellular bandwidth space may be restricted because of heavy usage. Even though some of the connections from some of the carriers might suffer from fluctuations and slowdowns when there is heavy traffic in the network, LiveU’s software will compensate for that slowdown by drawing on other resources to keep the uplink going at the best possible quality, according to the company.
Until LiveU developed this solution (and even now) most broadcasters relied on satellite uplink to deliver broadcasts. But satellite broadcasts require a line of sight connection to the satellite — making it impractical for broadcasting from indoors, under bridges, inside caves, or even in very cloudy weather.
“Since LiveU uses the cell network, our device can broadcast from locations where satellite use is out of the question,” said LiveU CEO Samuel Wasserman, adding that the leased systems that LiveU provides clients are a lot cheaper for broadcasters than renting a satellite van, or even using a satellite phone, usage of which “costs a lot of money per minute, with the hardware itself very expensive.”
Sky News will use multiple units from across LiveU’s range, including the small form-factor LU200, as well as its existing LU500 lightweight backpacks. LiveU units are managed and controlled by LiveU Central, the company’s unified, cloud-based management platform, which enables fleets of units to be centrally controlled using geo-location capabilities alongside a host of other management options.
John Ryley of Sky News, said that thanks to LiveU, “this will be the most exciting campaign and election night for decades. Sky News has created compelling and innovative content across all platforms which will give Sky customers all the details they need from the campaign trail and on election night itself. Sky News will offer the latest news and analysis with clarity and speed but with a wealth of in depth digital features that will allow customers to delve deeper into what this election means for the UK.”
Samuel Wasserman, LiveU CEO, said, “We are proud that Sky News, one of the world’s leading news operations, has chosen LiveU as a key technology partner for the forthcoming UK general elections. Sky News continues to innovate and we are pleased to assist with that innovation. Our approach and highly resilient technology allows broadcasters and other media outlets to select products from across our range and unify its use with LiveU Central, our management platform. Newsgathering has changed forever with LiveU playing a major part in the transformation.”