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Hitachi

Social Innovation

  • Urban Development
  • Analytics

Technological Advancement in Broadcasting Industry

Since the late 1980s, MediaCorp Pte Ltd. used analog microwave link systems for live event and news coverage. As the broadcasting industry went through a digitization period, significant advancements were made in the technology used by broadcasters.

MediaCorp recognized this as an opportunity to upgrade its own technology from analog to digital, to facilitate optimum deployment and productivity for coverage of temporary outdoor broadcasting venues.

Overview

  • Challenge
    Challenges MediaCorp Pte Ltd. faced using Analog Microwave Link technology: required line-of-sight, utilizes large amounts of bandwidth, susceptible to fading and reflection losses
  • Solution
    Solutions offered by Hitachi's Digital Microwave Link technology: multi-pass tolerance, increased transmission capacity, enhanced signal integrity & transmission Robustness
  • Result
    The Hitachi-Hanergy partnership has proven to be a great success. Both teams worked together through the course of the project – from research, design, validation to development, testing and implementation – ensuring the system effectively meets the required standards.

Challenge

Analog Microwave Link: Challenged In A Digital World

MediaCorp is Singapore's leading media company with the most complete range of platforms, spanning television, radio, newspapers, magazines, movies, digital and out-of-home media.

It pioneered the development of Singapore's broadcasting industry, with the broadcast of Radio in 1936 and Television in 1963. Today, MediaCorp has over 50 products and brands in four languages (English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil), reaching out to all adults in Singapore every week.

Since the late 1980s, MediaCorp had been using analog microwave link systems for coverage of temporary outdoor broadcasting venues, at events such as sports events, parades and live news crosses.

"In those days, fiber links were costly and not readily available anywhere on the island. I am part of the team that plans and recommends which technology to adopt for the contribution links as part of the MediaCorp technology roadmap," said said Mr. Lim Hwa Meng, Assistant Vice President Operations, Enterprises & Technologies MediaCorp, Pte Ltd.


The microwave link system is an essential wireless solution in any television network stations, and it is critical that it is covered in this roadmap

Mr. Lim Hwa Meng
Assistant Vice President Operations, Enterprises & Technologies MediaCorp, Pte Ltd.


Required Line-of-Sight

Analog microwave link technology requires line-of-sight, where both the transmitting and receiving points must visibly see one another for the signal to be successfully transmitted.

Consequently, this requires both time and effort to plan for suitable points or venues that are suitable for the transmission to work. Not only does this cost more man hours, in the case of last-minute news breaks, where time is essential, this can be a great setback. Potential opportunities can be lost and productivity also suffers.

"This actually takes up a lot of cost and efforts, and definitely it's not a viable solution when live newsbreak happens, it can happen anywhere, so this is one of the shortfalls that the analog systems face" said Mr. Lim.


Large Amounts of Bandwidth

Analog modulation takes up larger amounts of bandwidth, and cannot support line coding or a digital bit stream when content is digitized and compressed into MPEG coding.

In an analog link, one video signal can occupy an entire 20 MHz of bandwidth. The more data that needs to be transmitted, the more bandwidth is required.

For analog, it requires about 10MHz, whereas in digital or other modulation techniques you can actually easily double or quadruple the number of video channels that we can push into this 20MHz. That alone tells us that we have a lot of cost-savings and opportunity there

Mr. Lim Hwa Meng
Assistant Vice President Operations, Enterprises & Technologies MediaCorp, Pte Ltd.



Signal Fading and Reflection Losses

Analog microwave link technology faces limitations to transmitting clear video images at lower receiving levels. As the receiving level goes down, the quality of the transmitted images gradually degrades.

Solution

Hitachi Digital Microwave Link: Solutions For A Digital World

In light of the shift from analog to digital by the broadcasting industry, MediaCorp Pte Ltd. took the opportunity to upgrade its technology from analog to digital to facilitate optimum deployment and productivity for live broadcasting coverage.


Solutions offered by Hitachi's Digital Microwave Link technology:

  • Multi-pass Tolerance
  • Increased Transmission Capacity
  • Enhanced Signal Integrity & Transmission Robustness

With digital microwave link, the reliability of transmission link is much higher and offers a more robust transmission medium. The ability to accept refractor signals is regarded as one of its strong key features.

Mr. Lim Hwa Meng
Assistant Vice President Operations, Enterprises & Technologies


Versatility Through Multi-Pass Tolerance

By nature, Hitachi's Digital Microwave Link performs best in multi-path links, providing the versatility to be used in both traditional line-of-sight links and in heavy multi-path interference. This overcomes the challenges of noise and interference typically encountered at outdoor broadcasting venues

The Hitachi Digital Microwave Link delivers strong and stable transmissions even under severe weather conditions. It also meets industry standards for its waterproof capabilities.

In conditions with obstructive environment, such as large buildings or encumbering mountains, the Hitachi Digital Microwave Link can easily adapt to noise interference.

Whether it is breaking news during a snow storm in a mountainous area in Japan, or a car racing championship with winding circuits around large city skyscrapers in Singapore, the Hitachi Digital Microwave Link offers the versatility needed to effectively live broadcast such events.


Enhanced Signal Integrity & Transmission Robustness

The Hitachi Digital Microwave Link offers significantly improved signal reliability and transmission robustness over analog microwave link technology.

Reflection Link using Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex (OFDM) technology


Increased Transmission Capacity

The Hitachi Digital Microwave Link enables digital transmission of both High Definition (HD) and Standard Definition (SD) content. This is an essential benefit for broadcasters to stay relevant in the increasing digital world. 

By carrying HD-SDI signals, digital microwave links not only facilitates the transmission of digital content, but transmits larger amounts of data (up to 60Mbps) while utilizing less bandwidth than the analog system.  This also increases both productivity and cost-savings. 

"The old ways of having analog transmission that can only support one channel at a time is gone and we are trying to actually squeeze multiple channels into one bandwidth" said Mr. Lim.


One of the major advantages that we have in using this digital link is that it's able to support SDI inputs. SDI inputs also encompass High Definition, which actually allows the company to future-proof when they buy these links. This is one of the options we had put in our requirements.

Mr. Lim Hwa Meng
Assistant Vice President Operations, Enterprises & Technologies

Result

Significantly Improved Deployment and Setup Time

Through the use of multi-pass tolerance links and Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex (OFDM) in Hitachi's Digital Microwave Link technology, both setup time and deployment are significantly improved.

Less effort is required to find direct line of sight venues, which reduces manpower and the cost of licenses required since less bandwidth is needed.


The more tangible advantage that we can see is that the cost of deploying the microwave link will definitely be lower because, unlike the analog link, we do not need line-of-sight. So, pre-site survey can be shorter, or done without. Lesser spectrums of bandwidth are needed for one video signal, so frequency licensing to regulators can be reduced. All these gel down to lower cost of production for the broadcasters.

Mr. Lim Hwa Meng
Assistant Vice President Operations, Enterprises & Technologies



Future-Proofing Today's Broadcast Technology

As digital paves the way for the future, Hitachi continues to adopt the most cutting-edge and innovative technology into its products, enabling leaders in broadcast media to stay at the forefront of digital broadcasting industry.

"The digital links are the way to go in the future to replace all the analog links" said Mr. Lim.

Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc.

Hitachi Kokusai Electric was established in 1954, with the mission to create new value in the areas of communications, information, broadcasting, video and semiconductor manufacturing, by leveraging the value of each individually to enhance the overall collective synergy.

Since its beginning more than six decades ago, the company has pioneered the way, through technological advances, to become a leader in the industry. The very first manufacturer to successfully release a dual compatible analog-digital Microwave Link system, the company continues to be a social innovator trusted by customers and creating new value both in this era and for the future.

For more information on Digital Microwave Link, please visit Hitachi Kokusai Broadcast and Video Systems.

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