Japan gets high-def Super Bowl coverage via IP link

NTT Communications Corp. has used its IP (Internet Protocol) backbone for high-definition transmission of a live sporting event from the U.S. to Japan for the first time, it said Wednesday.

Coverage of Sunday’s Super Bowl game was sent to Nippon Television Network Corp. (NTV) in real time across the link, which spanned the distance between NTT’s facilities in New York and Tokyo, said Yasuhiro Sumida, of NTT Communications’ global business division. It went from Detroit, where the game was played, to New York over a conventional domestic U.S. video transmission service.

The game, which took place on Monday morning, Japan time, was recorded by NTV and broadcast late Monday evening.

The 70M bps (bits per second) high-definition signal is about three times the data-rate of the high-definition MPEG2 signal that Japanese viewers receive at home and typical of that used between broadcasters, said Sumida.

Such a high-speed transmission was possible because NTT has complete control over the link and can ensure it doesn’t get affected by other traffic. As anyone who has tried to watch Internet video knows pauses in the signal can occur because network delays can be frequent.

The use of IP networks by broadcasters to transmit video is becoming increasingly common as they provide a much lower-cost alternative than leasing space on a satellite, Sumida said.