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Best of Show Up Close: GatesAir Intraplex Ascent

When you have to move large amounts of digital broadcast data

“Best of Show Up Close” is a series about participants in Radio World’s annual Best of Show at NAB Awards program.

In 2019, GatesAir nominated the Intraplex Ascent audio over IP platform. Radio World asked Keyur Parikh, vice president and general manager of Intraplex Products Group, about it.

Radio World: What is this product and what are its intended uses?
Keyur Parikh: Intraplex Ascent is a COTS-based, high-density AoIP and gateway solution. The software platform is built upon proven Intraplex IP Link technology and supports up to 32 channels of AES3/analog/AES67 audio.

Ascent supports the same audio encoding as IP Link. In addition to supporting FEC and Stream Splicing to reliability, Ascent adds Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) protocol for added reliability and security. In addition to AoIP applications, the scalable nature of the software architecture also supports media gateway capability to enable reliable transport of broadcast quality video across the STL.

A GatesAir Intraplex Ascent is installed at Leighton Broadcasting.

For audio applications, typical use cases for Ascent would be studio-to-studio connectivity to transport high-density channels; and large-scale contribution or distribution, where an Ascent system at the head-end interoperates with IP Link codecs at the remote studios or transmitter sites. For media gateway applications, Ascent can be used for TV STL, or to distribute any UDP-based, high-bitrate media to a large number of recipients.

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RW: The software-defined version seems notable, what should we know about the implications of that approach as far as the user’s installation and operation of the system?
Parikh: Ascent can be purchased as software or as a complete appliance. The appliance is built on a multi-core GatesAir/Intraplex branded server that is preloaded with an OS and applications. It also includes the necessary audio I/O required for the customer. The installation of Ascent is similar to our IP Link codecs, and its built-in Web interface provides a similar look and feel.

Ascent continues the legacy of transport reliability of IP Link, and includes four network ports that can be used for both traffic and control. The combination of the four network ports along with SRT and Stream Splicing provides industry-leading network reliability. The software architecture of Ascent was designed to be scalable with channels, which allows our customer to a smoother growth path.

RW: What does Intraplex Ascent cost? Is it available now?
Parikh: Ascent is shipping now. The cost of the system varies based on configuration. I would recommend reaching out to your local sales representative to get more details.

RW: What else should we know?
Parikh: The introduction of Ascent provides a flexible and scalable software platform, which provides easier integration of new functionality. It also reduces operational costs for our customers by leveraging a COTS platform.

In October 2019, GatesAir said that Leighton Broadcasting in St. Cloud, Minn., replaced a hardware-based, point-to-point IP STL systems with an Intraplex Ascent AoIP transport platform; the manufacturer said this was the first commercial implementation of Intraplex Ascent for software-based transport.

The Future Best of Show Awards program honors and helps promote outstanding new products exhibited at industry conventions like the spring NAB Show. Exhibitors pay a fee to enter; not all entries win. Watch for more coverage of participating products soon. To learn about all of the nominees and winners, read the 2019 Best of Show Program Guide.

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