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GeoVideo gets first link

Lucent Technologies venture GeoVideo Networks has created its first fiber-optic path across the U.S., linking noncommercial stations KCET(TV) Los Angeles and WNET(TV) New York with an asynchronous transfer mode-based (ATM) connection that can support up to HDTV-quality video.

Both KCET(TV) and WNET(TV) are members of the CSRG Digital LLC, a consortium of 27 public television stations that has agreed to work with GeoVideo to market its service and work as local hubs to the fiber-optic network. They plan to market GeoVideo's 4,980-mile bidirectional link to production companies, post houses, news organizations and anyone else interested in a high-quality, cross-country video link. The CSRG stations, which will also tout the use of their production studios as part of the GeoVideo service, will split the proceeds with GeoVideo.

KCET(TV), for example, has two sound stages, which it frequently rents to production companies. Says President and CEO Al Jerome, "We really do have a full-service hub, and we know how to take care of clients." KCET(TV) hopes to test the GeoVideo link with prospective clients over the next few months.

GeoVideo hopes to add service hubs at WTTW(TV) Chicago, KERA-TV Dallas and WHYY-TV Philadelphia later this year. An international hub in London is scheduled for first quarter 2001.

The backbone of the GeoVideo network is being provided by Metromedia Fiber Networks. The ATM link is currently running at 45 to 100 Mb/s, says GeoVideo spokesman Chris Pfaff, and will be able to support IP-based transport in the near future. The service also includes an Internet-based browser that allows GeoVideo users to access video from the desktop.

Equipment comprising the GeoVideo network includes ATM core switches, IP routers and switches, and HDTV encoders and decoders from Lucent; ATM edge switches from Marconi; HDTV video routers from Sony; video servers from Sencore; HDTV video routers and audio switches from Leitch; and automation controllers from AMX.

The GeoVideo link has already been used successfully to transport HDTV video, says WNET(TV) Chief Engineer Eric Spiegel. WNET(TV) currently has GeoVideo's rack of equipment set up in an A/B edit room at WNET(TV), he adds.