Commentary: New AoIP Standard Is But the Next Step
author is vice president and executive director of the Axia Audio
division of The Telos Alliance.
hard for us to believe that audio over IP has been powering radio
facilities for 10 years. As the first company to launch the
technology, we can tell you that it’s been both a very busy and a
very cool time.
Nashville is among those putting AoIP technology to work.
The use of
AoIP in the broadcast facility was the brainchild of Steve Church. He
saw how voice over IP was changing corporate America’s approach to
telecommunications and realized that Ethernet switches optimized for
VoIP (which had non-blocking backplanes to prevent data packet loss
during intense use) made them perfect for moving real time audio
around a broadcast facility.
our R&D team realized that one key issue standing between these
switches and AoIP was timing. The original Ethernet standard
(IEEE-802.3) did not have timing synchronization. Without sync,
mixing audio packets from different parts of the facility would be
difficult, if not impossible.
devised a way to create and distribute a master clock inside
Ethernet, so that all the packets were synchronized. This was just
the first of many hurdles we crossed to create a commercially viable
customers were the true pioneers, though. Early adopters are known
for taking risks, doing so because they believe in the power of
something others are scared of. Those adopters recognized the
potential of the new technology, and saw that it would propel their
projects to completion faster, better, and with less expense.
also realized that backing something so new imparted risk to their
reputations — but they believed that the upside outweighed the
these early adopters was Mark Stennett, vice president of corporate
engineering at Univision Radio. Recently, Mark reminded me of his
time installing some of the very first Axia gear, in Austin, Texas.
Risky? At the time, sure — but now he’s regarded as a visionary.
on to install AoIP in many of the Univision stations, including their
very large facility in Houston.
early days, Axia folks ate a lot of airport food, traveling far and
wide to teach about the tech. They held one-on-one sessions, and
spoke at NAB, AES and SBE events. Unlike previous products that
changed our industry, AoIP integrated more deeply into the broadcast
plant than any of our earlier innovations, and it took a lot of
education to help people allay their concerns. (At the same time, a
few competitors worked night and day to scare people away from the
tech, too. Funny thing: the naysayers now sell their own AoIP
WHERE WE’RE GOING
perhaps the most exciting time in the history of AoIP. More than
4,500 Axia IP consoles and 53,000 AoIP devices are installed
worldwide (and the number increases every day). More than 50 partners
build products that connect directly to Axia networks, serving
broadcasters every day. Thousands of broadcasters have been freed
from the mazes of wiring and dozens of different connector types that
once infested broadcast plants, saving millions of dollars in
supplies and labor.
partnered with another AoIP company, Ravenna, from ALCNetworx,
allowing even more broadcasters to enjoy AoIP; products from more
than 70 manufacturers now work together seamlessly on AoIP networks.
next? Axia’s logo may be a crystal ball, but we can’t see the
future. We can, however, make some educated guesses. You’ve
probably heard that a new standard, AES67-2013, has been ratified
with the intent of enabling interoperability between AoIP equipment
providers. With this critical standard in place, it’s easy to
foresee a day in the near future when interfaces between networked
and non-networked broadcast gear are a thing of the past —
everything will finally be networked. Just imagine: Any
broadcast device you might wish to add to your studio network will be
literally just a click away. Is it possible you’ve already soldered
your last XLR connection?
state of the art has come a long way in the last 10 years. We’re
proud of what’s been accomplished, and we’re excited when we
realize that there is more, even cooler stuff on the horizon. To
quote Steve Church: “Onward!”
Sacks grew up in radio, beginning as an engineer at WPGC(FM) in
Washington in 1976. He joined the Telos Alliance in 1999.
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