Is WiMAX Good Enough for Broadcasters?

Sprint Nextel promises “a secure wireless channel” with broadband communication first quarter of next year.  WiMAX is here and Wayne Ward, vice president of Sprint’s emerging solutions unit, said the wireless provider is testing a technology to deliver the quality of service broadcasters require.  Ward described a secure transmission over a wireless and public network.

Where would the WiMAX standard with secure channels place microwave and satellite transmission of live video from the field?  Wireless technology remains far behind the quality microwave or satellites provide. TVNewsCheck reports Fred Fourcher, chief executive of Bitcentral described the capacity of wireless broadband transmission as “a constant juggling between how much time you have and how much quality you can submit."  Speed and quality of transmission of standard and high definition video is still best handled by microwave and satellite.

When expense and acceptance of lesser classes of transmission enter the decision process WiMAX would become a feasible method to send video from the field for broadcast news operations.  TVNewsCheck applauds KIFI TV in Idaho Falls, Idaho as pioneering WiMAX in television news coverage by using the technology along with two microwave trucks. 

In the same article Streambox project manager Benjamin Larson said “a dedicated line is essential for suitable transmission” with WiMAX.  Streambox provides compression technology for KIFI.  More is required to compete with microwave and satellite.  Broadcasters demand a quality of service beyond the value cell phone users accept from high speed broadband. 

News production uses a number of technologies to deliver video and audio to an audience.  Some methods are best and some are just good enough.  The transmission path chosen depends on immediate advantages specific technology offers in speed and cost compared to quality.  Cost, timeliness and quality make WiMAX Sprint is expected to deliver in the next four months one the three best choices to be weighed in transmission decisions.

Next week Broadcast Newsroom Computing offers SMART goals as a success factor in getting the job done.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

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