LEO Satellite Connectivity is Revolutionizing the News Industry

In today’s fast-paced world, we’ve become accustomed to having a front-row seat to major events as they happen. But what if a story occurs in a location without a reliable internet connection? How can we expect to stay informed and engaged in the stories that shape our world?

Being the first to report breaking news can make all the difference in capturing viewers’ attention and gaining their trust. Unfortunately, journalists may be unable to connect to the internet if they are in a remote location without coverage, experiencing technical difficulties with their equipment, or encountering a disruption in network services due to a natural disaster or an outage caused by human error.

High-speed internet connectivity is the key to unlocking the stories that shape our world, bringing them to life, and keeping us connected, no matter where we are. It enables news stations to broadcast up-to-the-minute news as events unfold, giving them a competitive advantage in breaking news coverage.

The technology used to report on stories outside of a news station has changed dramatically over the years. This blog will explore the role that next-generation satellites and on-the-move communications technology plays in solving decades-old challenges and the new opportunities unfolding in digital satellite newsgathering (DSNG).

The Evolution of DSNG

Kymeta Hawk u8

Hawk u8 terminal mounted on a vehicle.

DSNG is a category of electronic newsgathering (ENG) that allows journalists to report from locations outside of a TV studio. ENG began in the 1970s when news stations transitioned from film to videotape through analog land-based signals. News stations moved away from videotape as technology evolved and turned to satellite transmission.

Throughout the 1980s, news stations sent satellite feeds through analog signals until digital video compression became the norm in the 1990s. The transition to digital technology improved picture quality considerably and reduced costs because digital transmission uses less power than analog. Today most of the news sent via satellite is done through digital means.

As we entered the 21st century, news organizations shifted away from traditional broadcasting methods and began using public Wi-Fi and cellular networks to report outside the studio. However, this approach has proved problematic, as cellular service is not always available in remote locations.

Some organizations have moved away from satellite technology due to the slow and unreliable connection of traditional geostationary (GEO) satellites. GEO satellites remain fixed above the same point on the earth, orbiting at 35,786 km, causing higher latency and delays during live television broadcasts. This delay can result in a lag between reporters in the field and news anchors in the studio.

New satellite technology, including medium-earth-orbit (MEO) and low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellites, has emerged. MEO satellites orbit less than 20,000 km from the earth, while LEO satellites orbit between 500 to 1600 km above the surface. LEO satellites are the closest to the earth and offer the highest speeds and lowest latency of all three options. They are ideal for news organizations looking to deliver the latest news quickly and efficiently.

The Role of LEO Satellite in DSNG

LEO satellite technology can transform how journalists work in the field, providing instant communication between the studio and reporters on location. Unlike older GEO stationary satellite systems, new technology is low-latency, allowing for seamless live interviews without lag.

LEO satellites are especially useful in areas where conventional internet or Wi-Fi is unavailable, such as remote or rural locations, or in the aftermath of natural disasters that disrupt broadband infrastructure. Reporters can also use satellites to report on events in space, including those occurring aboard the International Space Station. In the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns, news organizations relied on satellite images to remotely report on breaking stories. This trend could continue as a cost-saving measure in the future.

DSNG On-The-Move

For journalists to report on news from anywhere in the world, they need a way to connect to a satellite that does not rely on a stationary terminal to transmit a signal. This is where on-the-go connectivity, or communications on the move (COTM) technology, comes into play.

COTM technology provides a mobile link to a satellite from anywhere. A terminal affixed to the top of a vehicle powers COTM connectivity. COTM differs from communications on the pause (COTP), which relies on a stationary terminal to connect to a satellite.

OneWeb and Kymeta have partnered to provide on-the-move internet connectivity by integrating Kymeta’s advanced flat-panel antennas with OneWeb’s low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite network. OneWeb’s LEO satellite network offers high-speed, low-latency internet connectivity anywhere on the planet. Kymeta’s flat-panel antennas connect to LEO satellites to provide a more reliable and cost-effective solution for mobile connectivity.

The Hawk u8 can track and maintain a connection to OneWeb’s LEO satellites while in motion, making them ideal for use in vehicles, ships, and airplanes. In addition, the technology enables users to access high-speed internet connectivity, voice, video, and other data-intensive applications while on the move, regardless of their location.

Kymeta and OneWeb are Transforming DSNG

Together, the technology that powers Kymeta and OneWeb has the power to transform DSNG. One significant advantage is maintaining consistent connectivity anywhere, allowing business-critical services to be performed at the same quality level regardless of location. In addition, Kymeta’s compact Hawk u8 terminals are to relocate, providing flexibility for news organizations that may not need a permanent connection in a fixed area.

OneWeb’s LEO satellite connectivity is easy to deploy and manage for delivery, requiring minimal technical staff. With a team of three individuals (talent, producer, camera/soundperson), it can be set up quickly and enable fast broadcasting. Additionally, roaming cameras can transmit footage on the move, allowing reporters to deliver the whole story, whether on the ground, at sea, or in the air.

Additionally, OneWeb’s LEO technology enables public access to network solutions for sending in mobile pictures and videos and sharing content back to broadcast centers, promoting the exchange of user-generated content. The technology also supports live production content exchange from worldwide special event locations to a broadcaster’s cloud-based production network.

In conclusion, high-speed internet connectivity is critical for journalists reporting from the field. It is the backbone for live reporting and enables up-to-the-minute live broadcasting as events unfold, providing a competitive advantage. The evolution of DSNG has been remarkable, with new satellite technology offering low-latency, high-speed, and reliable connections. OneWeb and Kymeta’s partnership in providing on-the-move internet connectivity with LEO satellite technology can transform how journalists work in the field, providing instant communication between the studio and reporters with consistent connectivity regardless of location.

Want to learn how your organization can benefit from Kymeta and OneWeb? Watch our 45-minute webinar recording.

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