Level 3 Delivers Uncompressed Super Bowl Backhaul Courtesy of Cisco, Dark Fiber

If tonight’s Super Bowl coverage on your local CBS station looks better than usual it most likely will be because CBS network operations in New York is using the uncompressed signal that Level 3 and CBS have arranged to have delivered from Miami’s Sun Life Stadium to network operations in New York. Tonight’s game marks the first time ever that an uncompressed signal has been backhauled from a Super Bowl location to a broadcast operations center.

CBS will have both the compressed and uncompressed signals available for delivery to viewers and delivering the uncompressed signal will be as simple as punching a button. But it remains to be seen if CBS will actually use the uncompressed signal. Check in to SVG later this week to find out.

“This is the culmination of a couple of different efforts during the season where we worked with CBS,” says Peter Neill, Level 3, SVP, content markets group.

The effort began thousands of miles away (2,065 to be exact) in Denver at Invesco Field. Level 3 revamped Invesco Field’s technical infrastructure for the Democratic National Convention in 2008 and CBS and Level 3 experimented with game transmissions during a Denver Broncos game. When it appeared the system would work two tests were done towards the end of the season for Miami Dolphins games.

Tonight’s uncompressed signal will deliver the game at 1.5 Gbps while compressed signals will be delivered at 80 Mbps (redundant paths will also be established between the stadium and New York as well as Burbank, CA).

The key to delivering the signal is Cisco equipment and, most importantly, dark fiber that is available between the stadium and New York. Other stadiums that are currently capable of delivering an uncompressed signal are Invesco Field in Denver, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Lucas Oil Field Stadium in Indianapolis, and, soon, Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

So will the uncompressed signal mean a much improved viewer experience? “That reall depends on the last mile connection and their viewing device,” says Neill. “But we think that as CBS and others see how improved the picture quality is they will deliver an uncompressed HD viewing experience that is comparable to 3D.”

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