ABC BureauNET Case Study

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ABC BureauNET Case Study

  1. 1. CASE STUDYBureauNET: The Next Generation Platform for News GatheringBy David ChristophersenProject Manager – Broadcast Operations and EngineeringABC Television Networks Inc.“ABC News hasbenefitedsignificantly fromthe migration todigital newsgathering”John Arrowsmith, SeniorOperations Producer, ABCNewsOverviewChallengeTransform the news gathering workflow by replacing expensive satelliteuplinks with Internet based technology. Provide web access, privateEthernet and live video services over a common managed network.Provide 24/7 monitoring and maintenance of all equipment.SolutionABC Television partners with Level(3) Communications and Pathfire toimplement a completely digital network capable of delivering live videoand file-based media over a standard DS-3 connection. Cisco ProfessionalServices provides an outsourced management contract for remoteequipment.ResultsReduced operating costs by over $1.5 million a year. Streamlined theprocess of delivering video from remote locations. Significantly increasedthe volume of content being moved between bureaus.Knowledge Areas▪ Telecommunications▪ Business Process Change▪ Strategic Outsourcing
  2. 2. CASE STUDYPage 2 of 5News coverage in an increasingly crowdedmarketABC News, the award winning producer of programssuch as Good Morning America, Nightline and WorldNews Tonight with Charles Gibson, faces an ongoingchallenge to create compelling news content in anincreasingly crowded market. Continual pressure to cutcosts while maintaining the highest journalisticstandards has motivated ABC News to find new andinnovative ways to cover breaking stories in the field.Most news organizations today rely on expensivesatellite uplinks for transmitting video footage from thefield. ABC News was seeking a more efficient and cost-effective platform to connect its regional bureaus to theNew York headquarters of ABC Television.The ideal solution would need to provide both live videoand IP data services over a common, managed network.Historically ABC News maintained analog circuits in theLos Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, New York andWashington D.C. bureaus for transmitting video.Separate T1 or DS-3 circuits were installed for Internetaccess. (see Figure 1) The opportunity to consolidateeverything onto a single circuit made good financialsense but proved to be a major technical challenge.Adding to the complexity was the need to also provide aglobal, private Ethernet network for ABC NewsOne, theaffiliate news service supporting over two-hundredsubscribers worldwide. NewsOne maintains mediaservers in the regional bureaus that must communicatewith the central hub in New York. Says Chris Myers,Director of Operations, NewsOne, “Security andbandwidth are so vital that only a private Ethernetnetwork is acceptable.”Moving video as digital filesStarting in 2003 ABC News began testing devices thatencode video as files such as Telestream ClipMail. Thegoal was to determine if the Internet could be used totransfer broadcast quality video from remote locationsin a reasonable amount of time. The results werepromising however the overall complexities of theencoding and transmission process made it impracticalfor daily use.Pathfire introduces “Direct”In 2005 Pathfire, the content distribution partner forABC NewsOne, announced a new product designed tosimplify the encoding and transmission of media over IPnetworks. The new system dubbed “Pathfire Direct” hasthe ability to encode and play video files as well astransfer files to other units over the Internet. Direct usesa P2P file transfer mechanism similar to FTP. Mostimportantly the Pathfire Direct system makes it possibleto automatically track the movement of content byusing standard email alerts. Pathfire Direct proved to bevery easy to use and capable of transferring video clipsfaster than real time.The final piece of the puzzleThe final challenge was to find a global telecom providerwith a network capable of handling video and datatraffic simultaneously. After extensive research intotelecommunications carriers Level(3) was chosen due totheir recent deployment of a new technology calledDTM (Dynamic Transfer Mode). DTM makes it possibleto carry packet switched data and live video streams
  3. 3. CASE STUDYPage 3 of 5over the same network infrastructure. Using the Nimbra340 product from NetInsight it is possible to multiplex IPand ASI over DS-3, OC-3 or OC-12 local loops directlyinto the Level(3) DTM network. Tandberg MPEG-2encoders were used to compress the live video into anASI payload.Level(3) in conjunction with Cisco, developed a methodusing VLANs to provide both Internet access and privateEthernet connectivity within the same router. (seeFigure 2). Says Angela Frost, Sales Engineer, Level(3),“Solving these types of complex problems forbroadcasters is where DTM really shines”. The VLANconcept allows ABC to add additional network servicesquickly and efficiently.Ease of use translates to rapid adoptionBy the beginning of 2006 an enhanced platform hadbeen installed and tested in Los Angeles, Chicago, NewYork, Atlanta, Boston and New York. Throughout theyear the amount of traffic on BureauNET steadilyincreased, roughly doubling each quarter. The keyreason for such rapid adoption was due to the overallease of use of the technology. Prior to the installation ofthe new system it would typically require as many asfour people to manage the transmission of video from aremote location. The BureauNET system makes itpossible for a single operator with basic computers skillsto handle the feed process with much greater efficiency.Cost Tracking and ReportingA key requirement for the project was the ability toprovide real-time dashboards of traffic volume andoperating costs. After evaluating numerous third-partyreporting systems the QuickBase product from Intuit(http://www.quickbase.com) was chosen due to its easeof use and outsourced hosting model.ConclusionThe transition to a fully digital news gathering networkwas successful and resulted in a cost savings of over$1.5 million dollars compared to older satellite feeds.Traffic Increases Significantly Each YearReal-time Cost Tracking with QuickBase
  4. 4. CASE STUDYPage 4 of 5Figure 1 – Typical Remote Configuration (Redundant local loops)
  5. 5. CASE STUDYPage 5 of 5Figure 2 – Improved Architecture (Consolidated Services)

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