Product Spotlight: In-flight HDTV viewing system

Mar 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

What it is: Multicast streaming technology to provide airlines with HDTV programming. The first public demonstration will be held at the National Association of Broadcasters convention next month.
Providers: 2netFX, a provider of streaming solutions for Intranet and broadband Internet media delivery, and Avolo, an online provider of aviation applications and tools. Other partners-who will provide a satellite router and antenna for live feeds and streaming multimedia boards-will be announced at NAB.
Requirements: In-cabin wiring (an adopted standard) and 2netFX’s rack-mount server and software (to manage and stream content to the screens). For live feeds: a receiving antenna and a router (to convert satellite feeds to IP format). Pre-taped video files can be datacast to the server before takeoff.
CAT-5 cabling would provide a laptop plug-in alternative (an option for smaller, regional airlines).
Speed: Both Avolo and 2netFX peg the competition’s best transfer rate at 5 megabits per second (though no one they knew of was offering HDTV solutions).
“We can deliver everything from 100 kilobits per second all the way to 50 megabits per second,” 2NetFX spokesman Bill Reed said. “It better handles packetization, packet prioritization, jitter controls, playback and decode integration.” Motorola, Tiernan and Panasonic are the three main encoder manufacturers the company works with for HDTV; Teralogic and Ravissent are the two prime decoder manufacturers.
Quality: “If you want to see HDTV in its full aspect ratio, the best viewing is on a 16-by-9 screen,” Mr. Reed said. “But you can certainly see full HDTV-quality video on a computer monitor. And there’s certainly enough room in the back of a seat for a 12-inch LCD-or airlines could hand out Web tablets.”
Prospects: “A couple of airlines take in-flight entertainment very seriously,” Avolo spokesman Peter Berghammer said. “An ad for Singapore Airlines listed 17 channels.”
Separately, Mr. Reed said, 2netFX is in talks with a Canadian railroad for similar applications for passenger trains.%