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Super Bowl Gets a Hi-Def Update

Mar 8, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Surely the game-winning kick by the New England Patriots’ Adam Vinatieri was what Vyvx had in mind for the maiden voyage of its expanded technology during last month’s Super Bowl broadcast.

Instead, overexposure of a pop singer’s anatomy was what most people will remember about television’s first end-to-end fiber-optic network solution for transporting live, high-definition television.

Vyvx, a division of WilTel Communications, has carried the big game for 15 years, and launched the end-to-end fiber-optic network during the Feb. 1 broadcast. Derek Smith, VP and general manager of Vyvx, said the higher-speed transport from point of origination to broadcasters’ production facilities, including local loops, provided more than three times the bandwidth currently available over satellite, resulting in better picture and sound quality for viewers with high-definition sets.

It’s hard to say whether HDTV is on a roll now, after the one-two punch of the president’s State of the Union address (with Democratic response) and the Super Bowl. But the big-game effort was not wasted on those who see and hear with the eyes and ears of a professional. Joe Snelson, the Meredith station group’s VP of engineering, who watched the game in hi-def in Las Vegas, said he was especially impressed with the sound. “It wasn’t just the good pictures this time,” he said. “The game had really good 5.1 quality surround sound.”

Vyvx also delivered a standard-definition signal to broadcasters over its industry-leading network, plus the backhauls of more than 100 other live sports events over the weekend. “We specialize in moving video,” said spokeswoman Lisa Price, “and our big thing is live video transmission-live news, a heavy emphasis on sports. We’ve got the infrastructure. We’re wired into any major facility. If it’s a major media center, we’re there.”

Meredith’s Mr. Snelson didn’t see the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake incident while watching on Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS, he said, because he was taking his own halftime break. But he’s pretty sure he glimpsed part of the streaker escapade before CBS cut away.

“Wide shot,” said the veteran broadcast technician. “Not much definition.”