Tieline Technologies

Crawford Broadcasting Jettisons Satellite in Favor of Tieline IP

By Cris Alexander, Director of Engineering, Crawford Broadcasting Company.

Cris Aexander with a Genie Distribution WheatNet-IP CodecCrawford Broadcasting is present in eleven different major US markets from coast-to-coast. Programming content ranges from public affairs, to political and Christian talk, as well as music programs in several different formats.

For years we have used satellite distribution for intra-company network programming,through uplinks in Detroit, Buffalo, Denver,Dallas, St. Louis and Los Angeles. In the fall of 2014 we moved most of this distribution to the internet using Tieline codecs.

Tieline’s John Lackness showed me the Genie Distribution codec at NAB 2014. Our satellite space-segment contract was soon to run out and we were seeking a reliable, less expensive means of distributing programming. Since we already had Bridge-IT codecs in many of our markets, the Genie Distribution was a natural fit for us.

The WheatNet enabled Genies are located in our Denver and Detroit hubs where we have WheatNet-IP infrastructure. These are the only two locations where we originate/distribute company-wide programming elements. Other markets use Bridge-IT codecs for point-to-point transmission.

Tieline’s WheatNet capability made the Genie Distribution codecs particularly attractive for us. Installation was, quite literally, plug and play.

Audio I/O routing is all performed within the WheatNet-IP environment. This is important in a network hub when one program may be fed out of one studio/station and another program may be fed out of another. It is a huge improvement over what we had been doing and offers:

  • No audio connections
  • Superior audio quality
  • No A/D or D/A conversion
  • No sample rate conversion

Customizing the Setup

We appreciate the ability to create custom “programs” within the Genie. One program we may need to send to markets A, B and C. Another program may need to go only to markets C, D and E. We can create custom connection programs that deliver only the connections we require. This preserves bandwidth at both the distribution point and end points and is something we could never do with satellite.

We also like to remotely activate and deactivate programs with contact closures. This allows us to use Wheatstone’s scheduler to route, activate and deactivate programs as needed.

IP is the New King...

Universal availability is the best part about broadcasting over IP. We can send a feed from anywhere with IP connectivity, to anywhere with IP connectivity (with some qualifiers of course).

We only connect over IP and integrate both DSL and cable, plus some locations have fiber available. In Denver and Detroit we use Comcast cable internet for the Genie Distribution networks. In some locations we have a main and failover DSL with the failover mechanism handled by firewalls.

Generally speaking, reliability is quite good. In fact, the cable internet services we have are probably more reliable than some of the expensive point-to-point T1 circuits that we used in the past, and that is reflected in the IP connections.

We use the Tieline Music PLUS algorithm in stereo at 256 kbps with 48 kHz sampling. The quality is excellent and it surpasses the quality of the 128 kbps MPEG satellite transmissions we replaced.

We use some of our Bridge-IT codecs in backup STL applications. These replace the ISDN-based backups we have used for years. We employ solidstate switching in most cases (using RDL audio-controlled relays and the like) to switch the audio between primary and backup STL feeds.

We also began using Tieline codecs for remote broadcasts in 2012, using the Bridge-IT codecs and the Report-IT Live app. This opened up a whole new world of possible venues for us; locations where ISDN service was not available, but where we could get Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G service. It also made it possible for talent to run their own remotes without sending out a technical person.

Several of our talent and clients have also purchased their own Bridge-IT codecs and many have the Report-IT Live app.

In summary, all our engineers love Tieline products. They are easy to install, set up and use. They love the flexibility and suite of options.

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  1. For USA, Canada & Latin America contact: sales@tieline.com
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