Adtec Encoders Power Peak Uplink at Winter X Games 14

Peak Uplink is the sole SNG provider at ESPN’s Winter X Games 14 in Aspen, CO, this week, marking the 10th year in a row that the Colorado-based company has serviced the X Games.

By now, Peak Uplink is a cagy veteran when it comes to the X Games, but ESPN threw a curveball into the 2010 edition, which begins today and runs through Sunday.  The network demanded full redundancy in all of Peak Uplink’s trucks, meaning that the SNG provider would have to quickly double its supply of modulators and encoders to meet the requirements. Luckily, encoder specialist Adtec was happy to oblige.

“The biggest thing this year is, [ESPN] wants full redundancy,” says Peak Uplink owner Bruce Fauser. “Usually, we’ll have two or three encoders in each truck on a redundant level, but this year, [ESPN] wants complete redundancy. So we have four modulators in each truck and four encoders in each truck, which is basically double what we typically carry. Adtec was very supportive in procuring all that and getting us the requested equipment in a timely fashion.”

Fauser and company have a total of eight encoders in their two trucks, six of which are Adtec MediaHUB-HD 422 encoders with MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 capability. Over the next four days, three engineers will be running two fully redundant Frontline Communications-built trucks in Aspen. Peak Uplink is also supplying camera crews for ESPN and ABC’s coverage.

“We’ve been doing [X Games] for years now,” Fauser says. “[ESPN] is always changing what they’re doing year to year. It could be carbon copy, and they could do it the same as last year, but they’re always changing it up and making it more dynamic.”

Both Peak Uplink trailers will once again use C band transmission for the X Games rather than Ku band. C band is a lower frequency and therefore less susceptible to terrestrial interference. Says Fauser, “Most sports folks feel C band is more reliable, so we’re very excited to be doing it this year.”

Peak Uplink’s trailers also have the ability to transmit the entire event using MPEG-4 compression, but ESPN has wavered on going entirely MPEG-4.

“The X Games are going back and forth and haven’t quite finalized their parameters yet,” says Fauser. “Yes, we are doing some MPEG-4, but we’re totally dictated by their comfort level. The trucks are there to do it, MPEG-4 fully redundant and ready to go, but [ESPN] is still doing MPEG on some of their high-profile events.”

Since purchasing his first Adtec encoders for Winter X Games 13 last year, at ESPN’s suggestion, Fauser has upped his total to six and plans to add two more sometime this year.  “Adtec gear has been in our fleet for a year now,” he says, “and we’re very satisfied, to say the least.”

Following the X Games, Peak Uplink will take delivery of its 10th truck from Frontline Communications on Feb. 1.  Featuring MediaHUB-HD 422 encoders, the truck will immediately head out on a road trip up the East Coast to visit nearly every major TV network in the area before arriving in Las Vegas to be displayed at NAB 2010.