VRT, the Belgian public broadcaster for the Flemish community has built cellular newsgathering networks for its wireless cameras covering the cities of Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent.
The company has purchased eight in-car systems from Link Research which enables its news teams to deliver live news reports from their TV cars, using LinkXP wireless camera systems. The cars are also used for picture editing and they have antennas on their roofs.
There are four receive sites altogether, including the 175m RAC Tower in Brussels and the 90m VRT Tower to the west of the Brussels City. These Brussels sites cover a wide area reaching out to the NATO buildings and the airport. There are additional sites in Antwerp and Ghent. These sites are all linked together by fibre cable with ASI/SDI capability to form the cellular network. TVbrussel is sharing the Antenna network with VRT in the Brussels region.
The concept of the cellular network was pioneered by Link Research who has supplied a similar system to the BBC for 12 British cities.
The Belgian networks were installed by Link's Belgian distributor Diginet. The cellular network consists of a COFDM-based terrestrial newsgathering network with fixed receive sites which take signals directly from wireless cameras and transmit them back to the news studio to be used live on air. By linking sites together, it is possible to cover other areas of the city where there are no tall buildings.
"In our tests," says Michael Moelants of VRT, "we see a flawless picture because we were combining the output from two towers with a diversity switcher. The system is now in regular use, for Belgian national news."