ENGLEWOOD, COLO. Many top-rated radio programmers and networks rely on Clear Channel Satellite for their satellite audio distribution needs, ensuring that their programming is delivered reliably and with no loss of quality to their various affiliates.
Traditionally, we would have received an audio backhaul from our clients using ISDN or a copper T1 line and these technologies have served us well. However, like many other broadcasters, we have been keen to move toward an IP-based system as it is more cost-effective and provides us with the increased flexibility to be able to respond to our clients' changing needs. Therefore we have recently deployed a number of MPLS (Multi Protocol Label Switching) circuits for this purpose.
To complete the new circuits, we needed a professional and reliable IP audio codec that would ensure we delivered optimum service to our broadcasting clients and, after extensive testing and investigation, we went for the WorldCast Eclipse from Northern Ireland's APT
The author, left, and Clear Channel Satellite Network Operations Manager Byron Miller are shown with the APT Eclipse Codec at the network operations center (now part of the Audemat Group).
When searching for the ideal IP codec, we had a few criteria in mind.
Obviously we needed something that worked well with the MPLS network and we also required a lot of support to get the system up and running as this was a new venture for us.
We were aware that a number of major broadcasters had already installed APT's WorldCast codecs in large-scale MPLS deployments so we were keen to trial them alongside a few of the other competitor units.
The Eclipses performed well in the tests and APT provided us with quick responses on all our queries and a lot of support without extra cost. This was comforting for us and a major factor in our decision to go with the WorldCast units.
The WorldCast Eclipse codec also came in at a price that was affordable and offered the functionality that we required.
Reliability was a key issue and we needed a unit that would ensure no dropped packets across the IP network and provide us with a log of any issues that occurred on the link.
The Codec Management System (CMS) software that was provided along with the Eclipse enables us to conduct performance monitoring of the IP statistics and alerts us to any problems. It also provides logs of any alarms and events that occur which we can export to provide performance reports for our clients.
For backup, the units offer both a V.35 interface and four ISDN ports that can enable from one up to eight B channels to be bonded together for high-quality backup transport. We can configure the unit to back up automatically to either of these links should the primary IP connection fail and then automatically restore when the original link becomes stable again. For additional reliability, the unit's opto-inputs and relays can trigger other remedial action should any issues occur.
Another critical advantage for us was the choice of the Enhanced apt-X algorithm among the available coding technologies on the unit.
Many of our audio backhauls are used to check quality of the IP and provide radio talkback, etc. ... which means that delay is an important issue. Given the inherent delay in IP connections, it is essential that we at least have the option of using a low-delay algorithm such as Enhanced apt-X. This technology also ensures that we have no issues with concatenation as apt-X is resilient to multiple passes within the broadcast chain — very important for backhaul services.
With the WorldCast Eclipse, we can also use linear audio if the bandwidth is available or MPEG Layer II if delay is not a critical factor.
We have six WorldCast Eclipses installed and have plans to order more in the coming months as our MPLS state network expands. With the CMS software, we can configure and monitor these units from a central location over IP, which enables us to get an "at-a-glance" status at any point of our backhaul network.
The WorldCast Eclipses were a great choice for our MPLS network deployment. The performance has been extremely reliable and the apt-X algorithm is a great enhancement to the other selections of algorithms available.
Monty Dent is a sales and marketing manager with Clear Channel Satellite.
For information, contact APT at (800) 955-2789 or visitwww.aptcodecs.com.