A nationwide broadcasted live TV documentary programme in Norway was sent April 2017 and lasted 150 hours showing the trekking of reindeer from the inland to the coast of Norway.
The TV programme was produced by the Norwegian Public Broadcasting Corporation during late wintertime along a 100 km route with constant movement of the production along the reindeer herd. With no infrastructure in the Arctic areas of Norway and no feasible satellite contribution service, a new emerging “5G” technology with phased array antennas was used for the contribution.
A mobile ad hoc mesh network combined with the high power phased array antennas provided an IP mesh network with bi-directional data services from the mobile production room on a sled to the broadcasting infrastructure.
Making a live documentary programme of a constantly moving event in some of the most uninhabited, harsh and deserted places in the world presented an array of technical challenges with respect to production and contribution.
- No available infrastructure: Most areas between the start and end of the route had no roads, no houses, power or available telecom network infrastructure. All production units had to move on off-piste terrain covered by snow. •
- No planned route and timetable: The production followed the reindeer herd as it moved along in the valleys and on the hills. The exact location and time of movement of the production of the reindeer herd could not be planned well in advance. The documentary production team had to follow the animals at their natural pace and route they chose.
- Not feasible with satellite uplink: Being above 70° on the northern hemisphere, conventional satellite uplink would require very high power, heavy support equipment and large parabolic dishes. The low, almost horizontal elevation angle would mean that uplinks station would have to be placed on high altitude mountain locations and exposed to harsh, highspeed wind conditions. Snow on the ground and lightweight mobile systems on small sleds would most likely have caused large vibrations on the parabolic dish, limited the quality and could have disrupted the contribution link.
New microwave technology with compact and powerful phased array antennas with narrow beams focusing the transmission power and reception power has some useful properties for live production and contribution. Digital phased array systems have the same functionality as conventional antenna systems on mobile installations as they appear to work like omnidirectional antennas.
The antennas can be placed on units in movement, but with a significant difference since the antenna beams are narrow just like highly directive fixed antenna beams. The technology development towards phased array antenna systems can offer mobile operations significant increase of range, less multipath problems, less interference to other systems, and more efficient frequency utilisation with less demand for different frequencies in an area.
All this is possible if the antenna beam is narrow like a spotlight beam. The motion speed of the antenna beam in a digital phased array is so fast that no physical vibration or movement can break or disrupt the communication.
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