NEP Connect, the U.K.’s leading provider of media connectivity, has announced the delivery of 16 eco-friendly news gathering vehicles to ITV, part of a multi-million-pound contract. In February 2022, ITV selected NEP Connect, part of the NEP Group global network, to provide its next generation of news gathering vehicles for regional and national ITV News coverage. For more than a year NEP Connect engineers have worked alongside the technical experts from ITV’s news teams to design three types of state-of-the-art, plug-in hybrid news gathering vehicles, custom-built to serve ITV’s connectivity and sustainability needs.
Fourteen of the 16 vehicles are plug-in hybrids, offering 35 miles of zero-emission driving. With two external plug-in points, the vehicles deliver both when they are in transit and when they are covering major stories using onboard batteries, rather than diesel generators powering the connectivity and production facilities. Although the two larger national events vehicles are not hybrid, they utilise battery power for the production and connectivity equipment, offering several hours of zero emissions news gathering operation.
Equipped with a clever combination of bonded 4G and 5G, Wi-Fi and NEP Connect’s Ka band satellite service on an iDirect platform utilising an NEP Connect 9-metre antenna hosted at MediaCityUK, the vehicles are now in the field serving ITV’s coverage of live breaking regional and national news across the United Kingdom. The new eco-friendly units featuring NEP Connect’s industry-leading connectivity solutions were successfully used at the recent Coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey in London.
“The collaboration between ITV and NEP Connect has been hugely successful in developing and delivering this world-class fleet of vehicles,” says David Meynell, Managing Director, NEP Connect. “Sustainability targets were set by both companies prior to the build programme, and these have now been proven in the field. We have delivered the greenest, most eco-friendly fleet of vehicles in the world covering breaking news, and we have an exciting five years ahead delivering excellence for ITV and ITN. I am immensely proud of everyone involved with this project.”
NEP Connect has provided dedicated satellite news gathering (SNG) services to ITV and ITN since 1993 and together they have covered some of the most dramatic breaking news stories of the 20th and 21st centuries, now including the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and the Coronation of King Charles III.
“ITV is delighted with the new hybrid vehicles and service that NEP Connect is providing for our regional and national News services,” says Paul Stevenson, Director of Technology and Technical Operations, ITV News. “The technology we developed together has now been proven in the field and it is exciting that we are operating with such innovative and forward- looking solutions. The teams at NEP Connect have delivered and the fleet will allow ITV to continue to lead the way in delivering breaking news coverage across the U.K.”
Jon Roberts, ITN’s Director of Technology, Production and Innovation, says: “ITN is delighted to deploy this new fleet of vehicles delivered by NEP Connect. They have already proved their worth on major news stories and special events, including being critical to the delivery of our coverage of The Coronation. These vehicles, based in London, Manchester and Malvern, will deliver both connectivity and a flexible, high-end live production capability for ITV National news. We look forward to continuing our successful relationship with NEP Connect over the coming years.”
A substantial achievement reached by NEP Connect’s design and build teams relates to the available payload of the vehicles, which ranges from a minimum of 250 kg to a maximum of 900 kg. This payload allows additional crew and a high volume of equipment to be safely and securely carried. The two major events vehicles utilise batteries for the production and connectivity and have capacity for additional battery payload to extend the eco-friendly operational running period. This feature further enhances the sustainability credentials of the vehicles to support ITV with their sustainability targets.
Meynell adds: “The success is such that we are now in the process of designing new hybrid vehicles for other NEP Connect clients and will be looking to order and build these in the coming months. We are well on the way in our journey to carbon neutrality and everyone at NEP Connect has these targets at the forefront of their minds for all our projects and client requirements.”
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