The meaning of the term “portability” depends (like the meaning of “beauty”) on the observer. In some contexts, portability means the ability to take a set of equipment, pack it into the shipping cases, and transport it from one location to another. In other contexts, portability means the ability to move cameras around a set or a location while they are in use to follow the action of a particular shot or scene. Fortunately, wireless technologies exist to support each of the following cases of “portability.”
Case 1) On-camera portability requires wireless equipment to be fairly light and battery powered. In general, this also requires the use of omnidirectional antennas on the camera, which limits the amount of gain for the antenna and therefore the usable range of the wireless link.
Case 2) Site-to-site portability requires equipment they can be packaged appropriately for shipment and is able to be setup in a variety of physical environments. This type of equipment can use high-gain directional antennas to cover long distances, provided that secure mounting points can be provided and the enough time is available to properly install and aim the antennas prior to their use.
Case 3) Metro-area portability requires a means to transmit wireless camera signals from locations across a large geographic area back to a broadcaster’s facility. For the past couple of decades, this has been done using central receive locations (often antenna masts on top of tall buildings) and using a portable news gathering vehicle with a telescoping antenna mast. In most cases these systems required a direct line-of-sight between the remote antenna and the fixed central antenna. Today there is a different option that uses wireless mobile telephone infrastructure installed by a mobile phone service provider that collects signals at multiple base stations (i.e. cell phone towers) located throughout the metro area. This new solution offers an unprecedented amount of flexibility for camera deployment in exchange for the ongoing expense of data subscription fees. Because the mobile telephone network is shared by all the devices in a given area, service degradations are not uncommon, particularly when large numbers of people are in the same location (perhaps at a breaking news event). At times, it can be difficult or impossible to transmit video signals when these networks are heavily loaded. The latest advancements in bonded cellular technology, proprietary high gain cellular antennas and cellular extender technology can combat these conditions in most cases and transmit a video signal out from a congested area.