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IBC Exhibitor Viewpoint: Peter Howarth, AEQ

System convergence via IP technology continues to advance

The IBC show in Amsterdam is approaching. Between now and then Radio World will conduct several short Q&As with manufacturers about their plans and offerings, to help you get the most out of the big international trade show. Peter Howarth is account manager, special markets for AEQ.

Peter Howarth

Radio World: How has business been for the company since last year’s IBC show?
Peter Howarth: As of whole it has been good and we have increased the number of markets where we are present, some of which are still a bit slow and expectant in regards to investments. Also, we have been involved in quite a few projects of importance and in line with the convergence of broadcast equipment and IP technologies. This process started some years ago for us, technology has matured, and we are now beginning to see the results.

Radio World: What are you hearing from your customers about their business outlook this year? In what areas should we expect growth or the most interesting projects?
Howarth: Any broadcast operation now requires IP technologies to be deployed. Broadcasters are more or less conservative in regards to implementing new technology; basically depending on the savings and how quickly they can amortize the investment. We believe that most of the requests we will receive will be related to resource sharing and the ability to comprehensively operate, control and monitor new systems or to transition existing, traditional ones into flexible and scalable solutions based on IP technology.

Radio World: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at IBC2017?
Howarth: AEQ thinks that the trend in system convergence through IP technologies will continue and we will see further system integration becoming increasingly necessary. Global solutions are now becoming paramount for operators in media markets. Equipment interoperability and global system solutions for operation and control are increasingly needed so this will be something to look out for at the IBC.

Radio World: You’ve been active in the broadcast studio market for 37 years. What’s the biggest problem or challenge facing users in this segment right now?
Howarth: Workflow integration of solutions for the operation and control of all equipment encompassed in any system. This does not necessarily imply a one-stop-shop but rather the possibility to be able to shop anywhere with a guarantee that the final solution for the system integration will work. As already mentioned, equipment interoperability and management standards are becoming critical to the customers.

Radio World: How has IP technology affected your company, if at all?
Howarth: To say that IP hasn’t affected us all is like still believing that the earth is flat. I would say that our initial thoughts on global system solutions (that were a bit of our lead-motive in the middle of the 90’s) are proving right, and all our products have become IP in one way or another. It would be inconceivable to make any product without connectivity to an IP infrastructure. We now have all the tools at hand to be able to offer global solutions to our customers and with the honest conviction that nothing becomes impossible. We can now focus on workflow solutions rather than on system cabling.

Radio World: What new products will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit your booth 8.C55?
Howarth: We will be showing a completely new commentary unit, the Olympia 3 with AoIP connectivity together with our latest advances for already existing equipment with AoIP connectivity. These include specific operational functions for our mixing Consoles Forum IP, Forum Split IP and Capitol IP and new developments that are part of our global solutions. We will demonstrate the possibility to rely on a common infrastructure for different functions. Visitors to our stand will be able to see that the equipment infrastructure has mixed functionality. That is, audio mixing consoles, AoIP interfaces, intercom user panels and audio codecs are connected to the same router, creating a global, flexible, and if required, redundant system that benefits from the simplicity and flexibility IP technology provides in terms of wiring, for example. This allows for communication with an audio quality that was previously only reserved for contribution and broadcasting.

Radio World: Is the IBC Show a good investment?
Howarth: Even if costly, I would say yes, definitely. It provides a good opportunity to meet those who don’t go to NAB in Las Vegas. We are a European-based company and this is our home market. It also provides a good place to show and confirm the product rather than the “prototype” shown at NAB.

Radio World: What’s your favorite thing about the IBC show?
Howarth: Size and location. We are cramped into a smaller space than for NAB show, for example, and even if at first it appears to be a handicap, at second glance, I believe it allows the customers to visit and see more. To us as a European firm, it also allows us to send more of our engineering team to the show to assess the different industry solutions being presented.

Radio World: Social media is the new marketing frontier these days. Is it affecting the way your company does marketing/business?
Howarth: Even if we probably rely more on the direct contact rather than the traffic generated by social media, this is becoming more and more important. Social media provides a great networking possibility and allows customers and potential customers to exchange information concerning products and solutions and without having to request advice from the manufacturer. We are doing our best to publish useful information on our website and to direct traffic to this via the social media. From a business point of view, we have social media projects which integrate some of our products, such as our automation system, AudioPlus and our talkshow System, Systel IP.”