GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for TV and radio broadcasters, has transitioned longtime customer MediaWorks, a New Zealand-based television, radio and interactive media company, to an uncompressed Audio over IP networking architecture. The new transport solution keeps all signals in the digital domain and streamlines signal delivery, at once improving audio quality, reducing system complexity, and lowering the costs of live distribution linking across a single-frequency FM radio network (SFN).
Specifically upgrading the transport infrastructure of MediaWorks Radio’s iconic commercial brand, The Sound, the project refines and enhances the delivery of program audio from its studio in Ponsonby, Auckland, to synchronous transmitters on 93.8MHz FM at Auckland’s Sky Tower and Mount Ruru in the Waikato region. GatesAir’s regional channel partner Gencom Technology provided all presales design support, working with GatesAir product specialists and MediaWorks engineers to develop the now-live IP-based configuration.
Mark Simpson, Account Manager, Transmission and Distribution Systems at Gencom Technology, confirms that migration from a more complex legacy TDM networking infrastructure was the “prime catalyst” for the upgrade. The complete solution leverages Intraplex IP Link MPXp codecs with built-in SynchroCast technology to transport FM baseband and manage local ad insertions across its single-frequency transmission network (SFN), with Flexiva FAX50 exciters to support FM radio signal generation at each transmission site. The modernized design eliminates the need to transport program audio to a separate studio for local ad insertions.
“The migration from older E1 linking technology to IP, while partially prompted by the recent availability of the latter, also enabled simplification of the routing for the Auckland transmitter as it now comes directly from the Auckland studio,” said Simpson. “This eliminates signal drops and vulnerability issues of the legacy architecture, which required Mediaworks to route the Auckland program to Hamilton for local ad insertion. The synchronous performance across the SFN has been outstanding, and Mediaworks reports excellent audio quality and stability from the next-generation Flexiva exciters.”
Ray Smith, Transmission Manager for MediaWorks New Zealand, correlates the audio quality improvements with the flexibility of MPX over IP transport. The IP Link MPXp codecs support AES192 digital signal transport, which minimizes analog-to-digital conversions and positions all audio processing and limiting functions at the studio. The latter removes audio adjustment requirements at the transmitter sites.
“By leveraging AES192, we can maintain high-end digital audio quality throughout the entire chain all the way to the exciter,” said Smith. “Uncompressed MPX over IP transport ensures that the transmitters can be fully modulated without any decibel overshoot generated by compression algorithms. The average audio levels are higher, which means the transmitted signal offers the best possible audio quality that FM radio can offer.”
The SFN covers Auckland City and hilltop site Mount Ruru, which transmits the station’s signal throughout the city of Hamilton and a large portion of the rural Waikato province. Simpson adds that the IP Link MPXp codecs have introduced a “significant cost benefit” across the expansive SFN by transitioning from expensive E1 circuits to IP, with an expected ROI of three to four years.
“Audio over IP adoption continues to accelerate as more broadcasters report on its operational benefits and reliability as a transport platform,” said Rich Redmond, President and Managing Director, International for GatesAir. “We are grateful to report the success of MediaWorks New Zealand’s migration to IP and their anticipated return on investment, as well as the professionalism and technical expertise of our partners at Gencom Technology.”