- Daniel Morin
Senior Manager, IT Client Services
The ability to broadcast live from the scene of breaking news has become increasingly important both to our newsgathering teams and to our audiences. However, several of CBC/Radio-Canada’s regional centres do not have a microwave or satellite truck to facilitate this capability. This need set the stage for a search for available technology that would allow for live broadcasting without the extremely high cost of building and maintaining additional trucks.
Thankfully, over the past several years, cellular data infrastructure has improved to the point where transmitting broadcast-quality video is a realistic possibility. With this in mind, last year, Jeff Vella’s Broadcast Engineering team tasked Ion Jingoi with heading a Request for Proposals (RFP) process to see if a viable cellular solution existed on the market that would fulfil this need.
Initially, the RFP covered the needs of:
- Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
- Fredericton, New Brunswick
- Windsor, Ontario
The RFP targeted a series of companies and, following a thorough process that concentrated on the quality of the transmitted picture, as well as the solutions’ price, flexibility, and ease of use, Dejero (based in Waterloo, ON) was selected to provide the solutions to supply those regions in need of live broadcast capability.
Dejero offers solutions that allow for live transmission of high-quality Standard Definition (SD) or High Definition (HD) content over a bonded connection consisting of Cellular networks, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet. In addition to the capability to go live, Dejero has also built Store and Forward capability into their products. This allows field production teams to send pre-recorded video (as well as still pictures and other file types) back to home base with much more speed than traditional File Transfer Protocol (FTP) methods.
Figure 1 – How Dejero Works
4G LTE vs. 3G & Canadian Coverage
4G Long-term Evolution (4G LTE) is the enabling technology that gives our people the ability to send and receive data at much higher speeds than 3G. For example, when used in the Toronto area, 3G will normally yield a connection no faster than 3 Mb downstream and 1.5 Mb upstream, whereas 4G LTE can easily return speeds of 20 Mb downstream and 15 Mb in the opposite direction.
For a detailed view of Canadian cellular coverage as well as a general notion of what 4G LTE service must be like in certain regions, feel free to visit the Canadian Cellular Towers Map.
Dejero Product Line
The Dejero product line is made up of a series of hardware and software solutions suited to a variety of different live broadcasting applications, such as:
The Dejero LIVE+ 20/20 Transmitter – A professional-grade, ruggedised transmitter that encodes and transmits live video, along with built-in Store and Forward capability for other file types. The 20/20 is easy to operate with standard video connections (HD-SD SDI/HDMI/Firewire/USB) and a simple user interface. It is equipped with a maximum of six cellular SIM cards belonging to different providers (Rogers, Bell, Telus) bonded together, providing the bandwidth required to transmit live video. The unit also receives an interruptible feedback (IFB) feed from the Dejero server installed at home base.
The Dejero + Nucomm Connect Live – A technological partnership with Nucomm has produced this highly portable and versatile camera-mounted transmitter that enables broadcasters to transmit over cellular, COFDM, Wi-Fi, and satellite connections.
The Dejero LIVE+ VSET – A cutting-edge product that allows a station to equip its outside broadcasting (OB) vehicles for HD or SD video transmission over cellular, microwave, and satellite.
The Dejero LIVE+ Newsbook – A Windows-based software capable of bonding Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and cellular ‘Air’ cards (up to five connections) for transmission of live video with a simple interface, similar to that of the 20/20. Newsbook can use cameras connected through Firewire or SDI. The application is currently Windows-based, but Dejero is currently in the process of developing a Mac OS-based application for their Mac OS-using clients, including CBC/Radio-Canada.
The Dejero LIVE+ Mobile App for iOS, which enables transmission of live pictures to any of the Dejero Broadcast Servers installed on CBC/Radio-Canada’s network from any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, and features Store, Forward, and IFB functionality. Much like Dejero’s other products, the iOS app allows for bonding of the 3G/4G LTE cellular signal together with a Wi-Fi connection. The app also ensures that high-quality video will be delivered by leveraging Variable Bitrate (VBR) with a cutting-edge, stair-step encoding.
The Dejero LIVE+ Broadcast Server, which is the receiver that accommodates and distributes the incoming streams, as well as stored and forwarded files from the 20/20, iOS, or Newsbook clients. The server can be configured for either SD or HD content and it offers two separate SDI outputs for connection to a distribution router.
The Dejero LIVE+ Cloud Transcoder, which outputs RTMP and facilitates simple integration with any Web streaming solution provider.
The Dejero LIVE+ Portal, which allows resource producers to manage all of the Dejero assets within a network. With a few mouse clicks, one can change routing settings for any Dejero transmitter or receiver on the network. The portal allows us to meet the production needs of local, regional, and national shows from one simple user interface. E.g., resources in Toronto can take any of the regional assets and route them to the desired receiver, which makes the Dejero Portal a nimble and dynamic production tool.
Figure 2 – Dejero Live+, the Dejero Portal’s User Interface
Dejero Broadcast Server
As of right now, Dejero products feature prominently in the CBC/Radio-Canada’s English Services’ live broadcasting operations, with servers located in Halifax, Fredericton, Charlottetown, Toronto, Windsor, Calgary, and Vancouver.
20/20 Transmitter & Newsbook
Beyond that, Dejero 20/20 Transmitters are in use in Halifax, Fredericton, Charlottetown, Toronto, Windsor, Vancouver, Washington, D.C., and London, UK; and the Dejero Newsbook is used in our bureaus in Jerusalem, Hong Kong, Cairo, Berlin, and Toronto.
Presently, CBC/Radio-Canada has 250 licences in circulation for the Dejero iOS app. All of the users are provisioned to their region’s receivers and routed to the second output of the Dejero Server in Toronto.
As a practical example, the Dejero iOS app is currently being used in Calgary to provide live broadcast content for the local evening news show. Additionally, this capability is extremely useful in complementing traditional coverage options when dealing with large-scale news events, such as the recent election of Pope Francis, which also included coverage from six iPhones equipped with the app.
From a business requirements standpoint, beyond being able to allow live coverage of events in locations where the necessary infrastructure was either not present nor available, CBC/Radio-Canada’s use of Dejero products has a positive impact on the Corporation’s finances, especially in the foreign bureaus, thanks to the ability to make more judicious use of conventional satellite feeds (e.g., a 15 to 20-minute satellite connection from Moscow could easily cost approximately $800). In comparison, a Dejero Newsbook can provide a live connection of equivalent quality from a location such as Jerusalem with no added cost to CBC/Radio-Canada beyond the bureau’s monthly Internet connection.
CBC/Radio-Canada takes pride in adopting a technologically-mature solution that allows our people to provide timely coverage of breaking news and allows the Corporation to make better use of the funding it receives from the Canadian taxpayer.