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TV Reporting...By Video Phone

Techstination feature for Friday, October 19, 2001

TV reporting... by video phone. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Satellite video phones are transforming the world of television news...

"When you see on your television, a reporter, basically on his own on a hillside, with somebody illuminating him with a Mag-lite, doing live television, you tend to believe that maybe Star Trek wasn't actually quite that far from the truth after all."

Peter Beardow... president of 7E Communications... a British based company that first built the broadcast video phones for the BBC. Now... .they are in the hands of all of the major networks and the company is struggling to keep up with the demand...

"We were expecting to get orders of maybe another 50 or 60 as budget became available to broadcasters. Of course, on September 11th, things went mad, budgets got approved and we've delivered maybe in the last four weeks, something approaching 50 to 75 units and we have back orders for another hundred."

The 22 thousand dollar devices combine satellite and video conferencing units in a brief case sized package... that can send live signals back to studios from just about anywhere... .

"The only no-go areas for the technology are really the North and South Pole, where the curvature of the earth prevents you from seeing any satellites."

The only problem now... is that the video can be choppy... something like what you see on the Web. But Beardow says technology is getting better... and should achieve real broadcast quality within a few years. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.