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FIBER OPTICS CLEAR FAVORITE AT POLITICAL CONVENTIONS; NETWORKS WILL TRANSMIT THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION OVER FIBER OPTIC LINES

FIBER OPTICS CLEAR FAVORITE AT POLITICAL CONVENTIONS; NETWORKS WILL
 TRANSMIT THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION OVER FIBER OPTIC LINES
 HOUSTON, Aug. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- In the middle of a political campaign season heavy on sound-bites and electoral hype, the major television networks are quietly turning to a company that brings campaign coverage home over
fiber-optic lines. Vyvx, the televisions services arm of WilTel, which owns and operates one of only four nationwide fiber-optic networks, will be providing fiber-optic television transmission services to most of the major networks during the Republican National Convention in Houston - a broadcasting first.
 Typically, television signals are transmitted via satellites, however, fiber optics is displacing satellites as a preferred method of sending "backhaul" television signals from major news and sporting events. Fiber optics provides better quality, a secure signal and is not susceptible to weather conditions and atmospheric interference, which is important in Houston in August, the midst of hurricane season.
 The roster of major convention customers include CBS, ABC, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox and PBS (MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour). Most networks have 24-hour access to the Vyvx network for a two-week period surrounding the convention. The networks will transmit feeds via fiber optics from Houston to their broadcast centers for distribution.
 In addition to convention proceedings, programs like "Good Morning America," "This Week With David Brinkley," "Nightline," and "Face the Nation" are scheduled to be transmitted over fiber from Houston.
 Two-and-a-half years ago, fiber-optic television transmission was little more than an idea. No one had ever heard of Vyvx, let alone correctly pronounced the company's name (vih-vix). But when the San Francisco 49ers met the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV, television networks sat up and took notice. For the first time, the Super Bowl was transmitted over fiber optics.
 Hair-thin strands of glass, which had previously only carried voice and data communications, brought vivid television pictures from the Superdome in New Orleans to CBS in New York. Since the Super Bowl in 1990, networks have been using Vyvx to transmit a surprising number of high-profile events, including Monday Night Football, The World Series, NCAA Final Four Basketball, the Academy Awards, the Gulf War, the Kennedy-Smith Trial, "World News Tonight," and recently, the Democratic National Convention. The list of Vyvx customers reads like TV Guide: ABC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox, and NBC, among others.
 "Fiber optics provides us with another service provider in the marketplace; a divergent to satellite," said Brent Stranathan, vice president, broadcast distribution, CBS Inc. "Fiber provides a quality, cost-competitive service for certain applications such as point-to-point distribution.
 "The quality is as good, if not exceeding, satellite in some cases," Stranathan added. "Once you are hooked into the network, the speed at which you can make connections is pretty amazing."
 WilTel, whose parent company is Tulsa, Okla.-based The Williams Companies, Inc., is a $4.3 billion provider of energy transportation and nationwide digital telecommunications listed on the New York and Pacific stock exchanges (symbol WMB).
 WilTel was founded in 1985 after Williams ran fiber-optic cables through decommissioned oil and gas pipelines. Today, WilTel is a full- service telecommunications company that offers data, voice and video- related products and services nationwide. Its nationwide fiber-optic network has access to more than 30,000 systems miles and is the only nationwide network dedicated primarily to business communications services.
 Vyvx represents an attempt by the telecommunications company to find innovative uses for the network's mega-bandwidth.
 Fiber-optic transmission serves as a supplement, and for point- to-point transmissions, an alternative, to traditional satellite television transmission. Fiber optics' terrestrial approach avoids some of the problems of satellite, with benefits including freedom from atmospheric interference, protection from signal theft and quicker on- demand set-up.
 The capacity of fiber is also enormous. One fiber can carry more than 36 television channels -- more than one whole satellite -- and most cables include anywhere from 36 to 144 fibers.
 "Our interest and increasing use of fiber optics is with the backhaul of programming," said Mary Frost, vice president, telecommunications, broadcast, operations and engineering, ABC/Capital Cities Inc.
 ABC has been using the Vyvx system since 1990, utilizing several full-time circuits between New York and Washington to transmit news. ABC has also frequently used the Vyvx system on an occasional basis for transmitting sports events from across the United States back to the network in New York.
 Vyvx recently signed a landmark agreement with Fox Inc. to backhaul news footage from Fox affiliates around the nation to Fox's news production facility in Washington, and then on to its broadcast center in Los Angeles. The new Fox News network is the first to be based on fiber optics.
 "We're using fiber today because it makes sense," explains Andrew G. Setos, senior vice president, studio and broadcast operations and engineering, Fox, Inc. "Fiber optics is the most efficient closed- circuit information carrier known to man. The Vyvx system is marvelously well-suited to our requirements and is priced competitively so we have no choice but to use it."
 Setos explains that satellites require news networks to roll up microwave vans or satellite uplink trucks to cover a story. "There's a lot of manifestation and there's always the danger that things can go wrong. With fiber, the process is basically a phone call. It's much more convenient, and it's much less work and management intensive."
 Users typically connect with one of 50 points of presence on the Vyvx network via TV-1 analog circuits provided by local access companies. The analog television signal is then converted to digital format by codecs housed in Vyvx switching centers across the country. The digital signal is powered by laser light to another switching center where it's converted back to analog format before reaching its destination.
 Television signals are remotely routed via Vyvx's sophisticated Television Control Center located in Tulsa. In the event of a problem, signals are immediately routed to an alternate path. Vyvx will provide some 28 television circuits in and out of the Houston Astrodome during the convention.
 As Vyvx looks beyond the Republican National Convention, the upstart company knows that it must continue to innovate. "We have got to move fiber out of the point-to-point mode and into distribution," says Del Bothof, Vyvx president. "That's obviously very important to our future success, as well as providing more value-added services and easier interconnection solutions."
 -0- 8/13/92
 NOTE: Color transparencies showing fiber-optic cable being installed in decommissioned pipeline and the Vyvx Television Control Center are available. For overnight delivery, contact Kevin Inda at 713-547-1000.
 /CONTACT: Kevin Inda Director of WilTel, 713-547-1014/
 (WMB) CO: WilTel ST: Oklahoma IN: TLS SU:


RM -- SF015 -- 9634 08/13/92 12:32 EDT
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Date:Aug 13, 1992
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