We are living through a period of profound change in broadcast transmission and distribution, but not restricted to the broadcast industry, explains Rohde & Schwarz EVP and Head of Broadcast and Media Division Jürgen Nies.
Can you briefly outline the core parts of the Rohde & Schwarz portfolio at this time?
Rohde & Schwarz’s operations extend far beyond the Broadcast & Media Division – we are a technology company. We have a long history in test & measurement and this continues to be a key driver for our business. But also, we are continually looking for new areas to expand into. A recent example of this is cybersecurity, which is becoming increasingly important to our customers.
If you had to nominate three milestones in the development of Rohde & Schwarz, what would they be and why?
In the last 15-20 years we have introduced a wireless communications test & measurement platform, which provided the basis for the worldwide rollout of mobile communication networks. This success was based on the unique R&S conformance test platform for the global GSM standard.
Within the Broadcast & Media Division, I would highlight the introduction of the THU9EVO, which was the first solid state terrestrial television transmitter with power ratings in excess of 100 kW and fantastic power efficiency. This product has proven to be a key driver for our worldwide transmitter business, which continues to grow strongly year on year.
And a third milestone is the R&S QPS Body Scanner, which has revolutionised security measures at airports worldwide. It combines the highest levels of security for airport operators and intuitive non-invasive use by passengers at the airport. We did not have any previous experience in this, but we combined our knowledge in radio frequency technology and signal analysis to create an entirely new product which can be seen in several airports all around the world.
R&D will be launching a new whitepaper in advance of IBC2018 about gap filler network interference. What are the primary findings?
Terrestrial transmission is a mature market. Technology-wise there is not a lot of movement so it could be thought that there is not much creativity; however, we are continually striving to make advances to help our customers.
We’re developing new engineering solutions to improve our products’ efficiency and reliability – with the goal of making life easier for our customers. This white paper explains some of the latest advances in technology such as our new gap filler systems.
What are your objectives for this particular whitepaper, and in what ways will you be highlighting it at IBC2018?
Our objective is to tell our customers about new engineering solutions that are more efficient and enable them to work more effectively and more profitably. At IBC, we will have the TLU9 Gap Filler on our booth and it is a good illustration how we continue to innovate for the good of our customers.
The whitepaper raises awareness of a technical enhancement that maybe not so many people have considered. And then at IBC, customers can see the product for themselves and discuss its possible application within their business operations with our team of technical specialists.
These are tremendously dynamic times for broadcast transmission and distribution. What are your thoughts on the implications of, for example, 5G TV?
Yes, we are living through a period of profound change, but this is not restricted to the broadcast industry. Across all areas of electronics, there is a trend from hardware to software; and from software to services.
The biggest trend is from specific hardware devices towards COTS and IP. We have legacy products and then we have a vision of how the future might be. It is Rohde & Schwarz’s task to build technical solutions which combine the legacy with the future, so that we provide a real-world path towards the future world. We see tremendous potential for progression and change but we believe in evolution rather than revolution.
5G broadcast is just one example of where we use our experience to build technology solutions that build on the past and reach into the future.
If you had to highlight one specific project from the last 12 months that exemplifies the strengths of the current Rohde & Schwarz offer to the broadcast market, what would it be and why?
One project that stands out to me is the Repack Program in the USA. There was a regulatory change where spectrum was sold off, and as a result the whole industry had to restructure its transmission operations.
Within three to four years, all North American terrestrial broadcasters needed to reinvest in their transmission infrastructure. To achieve this, they needed a partner capable of manufacturing large quantities of robust and reliable products within a short timescale. At the same time there is a trend from tube-based systems to solid state, to empower users with reliable, efficient and easy to use transmission systems.
To date, Rohde & Schwarz is the number one supplier to the Repack Program.
Can you tell us a little bit about the new products that you will be showing at IBC2018?
We have a diversity of transmission, studio and post-production products on show at IBC this year, but I would like to highlight our new family of satellite uplink amplifiers. Traditionally, these systems rely on tube-based technologies which have a number of drawbacks.
Our new family of satellite uplink amplifiers are the first to introduce solid state technology, which provides customers with real added value through a new and radically different approach.
In addition, we will unveil a new multi-user shared storage system at IBC. For broadcasters and the movie post-production industries, we believe this new system offers really significant advantages over the current generation of storage devices.
Which trends do you expect to observe in your area of the market at IBC2018?
There is a trend towards COTS technology driven by changes in the market, but still there is the issue of legacy systems – so how do we bridge this divide? Another trend is towards a short-term view of the market.
Rohde & Schwarz is a privately owned company – our view is not on the next three months, but instead the next 3-5 years. Our challenge is how to communicate this long-term vision to a market that is becoming increasingly short-term in its view.
What is the greatest challenge regarding broadcast communications security in general at the present time?
In an environment that is increasingly influenced by software, IP and COTS hardware, these products are based on open standards which make them vulnerable to these types of attacks. Whereas as previously, systems were hardware-based, proprietary and closed, which made them much safer from attack, these new systems are very different.
Today, we don’t have a ‘silver bullet’ solution, but we see a need to work in this area. To combat this threat, we are investing in cybersecurity and are actively working with our customers to better understand how we can improve our existing products, or if necessary, what new products are needed.
Jürgen Nies is Executive Vice President and Head of Broadcast and Media Division at Rohde & Schwarz.
IBC2018 Rohde & Schwarz will be exhibiting at IBC2018 on Stand 7.B21.