The ability to deliver Emergency Alert System (EAS) alerts is mandatory for U.S. cable operators with more than 10,000 subscribers, but has become more difficult as operators support both analog and digital subscribers with an increasing range of decoding technologies, such as different brands and models of set-top boxes, as well as TVs with built-in tuners. With many legacy EAS generation systems still in place, EAS alerts can indiscriminately be delivered to subscribers well outside the affected areas, or they may not provide any EAS service at all to select subscribers with newer television sets with built-in digital decoders. As a solution to this problem, complete channel override techniques are too disruptive to viewers and not necessary for all levels of emergency alerts.
The analog EAS generation function of RGB's Simulcast Edge Processor (SEP) as well as the digital EAS capability of RGB's Broadcast Network Processor (BNP) overcome these issues, allowing operators to build a standards-based EAS delivery system using SCTE 18 messaging, and distribute alerts universally throughout their network to both analog and digital subscribers.
The BNP's digital EAS support can be applied selectively to any digital program being processed to generate 'text crawls' in which the emergency alert information is presented as text that scrolls across the television screen. The EAS text messages are digitally rendered and overlaid directly onto any SD or HD MPEG-encoded program and then delivered directly to any digital subscriber set-top box, television or to a headend analog decoder, such as RGB's SEP, and presented as an overlay text alert to viewers. The BNP also supports operator-configurable audio override or audio stream insertion to complement the text crawl message for a completely customizable deployment.
From a central headend, operators can deliver EAS alerts to all of their subscribers, or to select groups. EAS messages can therefore be sent across all types of programming, including linear broadcast, switched broadcast and video-on-demand content.
The EAS overlay messages delivered via RGB's BNP and SEP are compatible with SCTE 18-compliant management systems from leading industry vendors for a comprehensive, standards-based solution.
In addition to mandated EAS messaging, digital overlays are an excellent tool for providing non-emergency alerts directly to subscribers on their televisions. While subscribers can easily miss crucial information about service changes if it is emailed to them, or included somewhere on their monthly bill, it is harder to ignore it if it pops up right in front of them while they are watching their favorite program.
With the ability to localize content and combine text and graphics into a simple overlay, RGB's BNP provides an easy and cost-effective way of keeping customers fully informed of any alterations to their planned service—failure to do so could lead to missed revenue opportunities, subscriber frustration or, even worse, churn. With a simple user interface and the ability to accommodate international characters, RGB's advanced messaging system is a useful tool for operators worldwide to communicate with their customers.
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