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Broadcasting’s New State of the Art: Digital Comm Link’s Digicaster SoloCam


The Digicaster SoloCam (source: Digital Comm Link, Inc.)

Since its incorporation in 1995, Florida-based company Digital Comm Link, Inc. has been in the forefront of providing cutting edge production support and equipment for the broadcasting industry. These include colocation, ISP, mobile satellite trucks, VOIP, FTP, video streaming, and the Digicaster Transport Platform. I recently had the opportunity to talk to Said Knan, Digital Comm Link’s Vice President of Marketing, about his company and the various services it provides. “I started in January 2001 as the accountant,” Khan told me. “In February 2013, I became VP of Marketing, and, in April of that year, we attended our first NAB Las Vegas Show with our proprietary Digicaster Transport Platform. As vice president of marketing, my goal is to get the word out about the company’s products and services, highlighting the company’s best attributes, keeping a close eye on the competition, and focusing on making the company better.”

Said Khan (source: Digital Comm Link, Inc.)

Khan then went into detail about the aforementioned Digicaster Transport Platform. “The Digicaster is a video transport platform that simultaneously send and receive HD/SD broadcast quality video over the public internet in low latency. Our proprietary packet recovery technology is capable of withstanding elevated packet loss levels without affecting the quality of the transmission. In addition, all communications are protected with military grade encryption to ensure the security of our client’s content. The platform offers two delivery models, traditional point-to-point transmissions between a single source and single destination, and point-to-multi-point distribution where a single source is replicated to multiple destinations simultaneously via DCL’s distribution centers. Our proprietary packet recovery technology allows HD broadcast video to be transmitted over Public IP, utilizing standard business class Internet circuits.  Incorporating H.265 compression algorithms can also significantly reduce the bandwidth required to facilitate these transmissions. The IP Encoders and Decoders are assembled in-house, and are directly connected to our distribution HUB, which is connected to the Level 3 Video Switch and DCL’s own Teleport, allowing our customers to transmit and receive HD/SD broadcast quality video via IP, fiber, and satellite through a single unit.”

Khan followed up by telling me about Digital Comm Link’s latest product, the Digicaster SoloCam. “IP technology has opened the door to several new contribution platforms,” he explained, “such as 5G, 3G/4G bonding systems, and KA satellite, which are easy to set-up and use by nontechnical personnel. However, in most cases it is still necessary to have a camera crew on location if any live contributions are required. As most contributions are simple ‘down the line’ interviews in the studio, all that is required is for the shot to be correctly framed and in focus. The Digicaster SoloCam enables the contributor to set up the shot, adjust microphone levels, and manage IFB themselves, freeing up the camera crew to gather material or deploy to other assignments. Cabling is kept to a minimum; the internal audio embedder means a single video cable is used to connect to the outgoing path. There is a wired connection for a microphone. Camera control and microphone levels can be set up by the contributor. The contributor can control shot-set up via hand held infra-red remote control, offering control over pan/tilt/zoom and mic levels. The SoloCam-unit offers studio control via the Digicaster web scheduling portal.”

For the remainder of the interview, Khan continued to give me detailed info on Digital Comm Link’s other services and products, such as the Colo 84, their Category 5 colocation facility. “Category 5 simply means the facility can withstand a Cat 5 Hurricane. Our facility works as a type of data center that rents equipment space and bandwidth to companies and businesses that need a network service provider at a reasonable cost. Businesses could spend a small fortune creating a private infrastructure, but by tapping into our colocation facility, those same businesses can rent the services they need without having to create the communications system themselves. While we are providing server spacing and expansive bandwidth, it is important to remember that our facility has multiple generators, two legs of shore power, and we offer multiple internet providers, so our customers have choices.”

Digital Comm Link’s ISP and production services. “We are an authorized re-seller of AT&T and CenturyLink’s data and voice products from 1Mbps to 10Gbps fiber circuits. We operate a Wireless Network from our 200 feet on-site communications tower serving businesses and residential communities within Broward County. Whether you are looking for permanent, temporary, or back-up service, a Wireless service can be up and running within a matter of days instead of months. We currently provide a HD ENG Kit, which is a specially configured all-inclusive package that brings together all of the production tools you will need to outfit your professional electronic news gathering shoot. An ENG Kit is commonly used on one-or-more person interviews, documentaries, award shows, reality shows, behind the scenes footage, shooting b-roll, etc.…”

Satellite Media Tours (SMTs): “A satellite media tour is a technique used by corporations, primarily, to provide an ‘expert’ of their choosing to local television news broadcasts for often-live interaction, with the goal of getting out a specific message. Satellite media tours are related to, and often used in conjunction with video news releases.”

The teleport satellite services: “Our teleport operates on a 24/7 basis and is strategically located to service the US, LATAM, Caribbean, European, African, and Asian Markets, and with our fiber connectivity to Level 3 VYVX, we also have additional access to their teleports and Video Switch. You can leverage Digital Comm Link infrastructure for a range of managed services from teleport and hub operations to full end-to-end service. Our managed services simplify satellite-based communications, reduce network operations costs, and deliver the flexibility and support to meet your changing requirements. When you’re ‘on-net’ with Digicaster IP Units, you can seamlessly use any service available at the teleport along with Level 3 Virtual Teleport and Video Switch. The Mobile Satellite Trucks are HD, and are capable of television broadcast transmissions via KU and C-Band. They are also equipped to deliver on-site internet bandwidth over satellite in the event of an emergency or to a remote location.

DCL’s studio in Davie, Florida, the on-site editing studio, and the various Insert Studios spread over the country: “Studio 84 is a 4500 square-foot production studio that houses a 20 feet lighting grid, a 3 CYC wall, and a green screen. The studio is raw space available for any type of production project, with parking for mote than 50 vehicles, and is directly connected to our on-site Teleport and Video Switch. This allows for an immediate live broadcast so very favorable for Satellite Media Tours. The editing studio is capable of small projects, and we have a full-time editor on staff. However, for very large projects, we have access to a state-of-the art facility not too far from us that we are directly connected to, so we are able to send video in real time back and fourth.

“Our 23 talking-head live shot studios throughout the country are a direct result of our Digicaster IP Units. We are able to open these locations, which are fueled by the television broadcast networks for their news shows. By placing a Digicaster Unit at any location that has an internet connection, a remote location immediately becomes live, and can transmit a HD Broadcast signal via IP, Satellite and Video Switch. We have been able to set-up homes and offices for network contributors on a daily basis. As more and more contributors get comfortable from their home and private offices, we have developed a HD PTZ Camera Package that can be easily deployed to any location and controlled directly from the network head-end. This would certainly allow a much better picture and audio quality than say a Skype transmission.”

DCL’s streaming services: “The Digicaster IP Units allows customers to simultaneously transmit a broadcast stream to a network or OTT Platform, and transcodes that same signal to HTTP, HTTPS, HLS, RTP, RTMP, RTSP streams for CDN publication, IPTV, YouTube, and Facebook to name a few. The units can do it all, HEVC/H.265, H.264/MPEG-4AVC, and MPEG-2 compressions, as well as 4K, HD, and SD video resolutions, plus IP, SDI, and ASI interfaces. No matter what the project is, we can help you.”

DCL’s VoIP gateway: “Whether it be domestic/international, public DIDs, hosted PBX, or private FXO/FSX, DCL’s VoIP gateways are designed to seamlessly integrate with the award-winning Switchvox Unified Communications system. Switchvox customers can enjoy guaranteed platform interoperability and quick configuration during deployment. With features such as automatic discovery and call routing, system setup can be accomplished in a matter of minutes.”

Khan wrapped up our talk by telling me about some of the ways he promotes Digital Comm Link. “I spend a lot of time on the internet,” he said, “analyzing trends and researching information to set prices and figure out new ways to promote the company’s brand. I also work closely with our VP of Operations to develop new products and add new features to our existing products. As we are a small company, I have to get creative by finding ways to work with other complimentary service companies, such as Broadcast Beat, with our marketing. I am also in charge of Business Development and always looking for other companies to partner with in hope of expanding our product and services globally.”

Doug Krentzlin
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