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Pennsylvania Cable Network Case Study: Replacing Satellite Transmission with Reliable Internet-based Distribution Solution

Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN), a non-profit statewide cable television network with 10 million viewers, uses direct fiber connections to distribute live programming from its main HQ site in Camp Hill to the Comcast and Verizon cable systems and previously used satellite links to distribute to an additional 30 headends across the state.

According to Dean Vaccher, PCN Engineer, a key driver for replacing the satellite-based transmission with distribution over IP was the addition of high definition (HD) channels to PCN’s channel lineup. Previously, it only distributed standard definition (SD) NTSC 525 channels over C-band satellite links, with a yearly cost consuming a large chunk of its network operations budget. By replacing its satellite-based transmission with distribution over IP, PCN would be able to add HD channel distribution at a significantly lower cost than satellite.

"As we began to roll out HD to our headends, we realized that we needed a more affordable solution for distribution without sacrificing reliability," said Debra Sheppard, PCN’s COO." If we had continued to use a C-band satellite for HD video delivery, our monthly costs would have been considerably higher."

Another advantage of replacing satellite transmission with an IP network is that the latter enables bi-directional communication (unlike satellite) for network monitoring. PCN wanted better control and visibility of network issues and the ability to receive proactive alerts on potential issues. "We wanted to know ahead of time if there was a problem, rather than waiting to receive a call from our viewers and then scrambling to respond," said Vaccher.

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