Fall Sports Remote Setups with ViA

Fall Sports Remote Setups

Jake’s Take on Fall Sports Remote Setups

With the world slowly opening back up, the radio industry is moving full steam ahead in trying to get back to normal. One way is by getting involved again with your local community. Local involvement includes radio broadcasters returning to broadcast local high school, collegiate, or professional sporting events. As some people have been out of practice for over a year, I thought it would be a good idea in this month’s Jakes Take to outline some of best practices for fall sports remote setups and helpful hints for broadcasting an event live, sports or otherwise.

Preferred Connection Interfaces

Let’s start with transmission lines for fall sports remote setups. When it comes to IP codecs, there are several ways to connect back to the studio (examples, Wireless LTE, Wi-Fi, hardline IP Ethernet). When preparing for your remote it is important to take note of which transmission lines are available at that venue. This information can help you plan for backup connections or real-time redundancy links, like Tieline’s SmartStream PLUS. When determining your transmissions, you should ask yourself a few additional questions:

  1. Is the internet connection shared? A shared internet connection CAN introduce issues for multiple users, as bandwidth may be taken away by the remote equipment of other users. Having a dedicated connection is preferred.
  2. If using Wi-Fi, is the network an open wireless network or a private network? Try to avoid using public open Wi-Fi networks, as you don’t know who else is using that network and for what.
  3. If using LTE, what is the coverage like at the venue for the different wireless carriers? If you already know that your preferred carrier doesn’t have good coverage, then you might want to look at a different provider, or a secondary network.
  4. What is my expected bandwidth? The amount of available bandwidth is key for a high-quality remote broadcast.
  5. Is it worth using two ISPs for a more reliable broadcast signal? Even though a secondary ISP can add additional costs to a remote, it can deliver additional redundancy in areas with poor coverage or a lot of users.

Tieline’s ViA remote codec supports 7 different IP interfaces to ensure maximum flexibility when planning your next remote.

Fall Sports Remote Setups with ViA
The ViA codec supports 7 different IP interfaces, plus ISDN

Configuring Connection Interfaces

Next, let’s take a closer look at the configuration of the transmission link that you have chosen. Here we’re investigating the quality of the audio, the reliability of the link, and the overall latency. The connection quality is determined by the audio algorithm and the audio bitrate. The audio algorithm is more of a personal choice, as there are several variants available. The audio bitrate however, is more or less defined by how much internet bandwidth you have available. As the best practice, I have always recommended that clients look to have an additional 20-30% additional bandwidth than they really need for the connection. As an example, if you had a 500-kbps connection, then the max bitrate would be roughly around 350 kbps. If you under budget on bandwidth for a remote, then this will cause audio glitches and drops throughout the broadcast.

SmartStream PLUS redundant streaming delivers packet redundancy over IP networks for greater reliability

Improving Connection Quality

Lastly, lets discuss those dreaded glitches and audio drops that can occur during a remote broadcast connection. The type of audio drop or glitch will determine the best course of action to fix the problem. To determine the type of audio loss you will first need to understand the stats system laid out by your audio codec manufacturer.

Tieline has set up a two-part statistics system. The first part will simply tell you if you have a problem in the link. We refer to this as our link quality system, and will produce two numbers (Local = L, and Remote = R) that ideally hover around a value of 99. This number will indicate if there is a problem, and in which stream there is an issue (Local or Remote). If the number is locked at 99, then you don’t have anything to worry about. However, if the number dips below 99 then you may have some packet loss.  If you notice that your link quality numbers have dipped below 99, then you will want to take a closer look at our packet stats counter. This counter will produce four separate columns that breakdown the type of packet loss experienced (see the below chart for more information about the packet breakdown).

In my 11 years with Tieline I’ve seen a few things when it comes to remote broadcasts over an IP network. If my experience has taught me anything, it is that there is normally a simple solution for some of the biggest problems. Having the right information in front of you, and knowing what to do with that information, can make a big difference in your remote broadcasts.

Packet Analysis
Indicates
Possible Causes
Possible Solutions
Loss
Packets Failed to Arrive
  • LAN/WAN Congestion
  • Unreliable ISP
  • Unreliable internet network
  • Unreliable IP Hardware
  • Renegotiate the connection bit-rate downwards
  • If Link Quality numbers aren’t terrible low, then add or increase the amount of Forward Error Correction
  • Assess ISP’s QOS if extremely poor performance
Empty
Indicates how often the Jitter Buffer “Reservoir” empties causing loss of audio
  • High Number of packets being lost or arriving late
  • Signal Drop-outs using Cell-Phone networks
  • Renegotiation causes the jitter buffer “reservoir” to empty
  • Once could be considered an anomaly –assess the Loss and Late Packet Values
  • If many lost packets, then renegotiate bit-rate down, or Forward Error Correction down.
  • If several late packets, then increase the Jitter Buffer for a higher delay
Late
The number of packets that arrived too late and after audio played out
  • Network Congestion over LAN/WAN
  • Jitter Buffer Depth is set too low
  • If using Auto-Jitter Adapt, then the buffer will automatically adjust itself accordingly
  • If using a manual buffer, then we suggest increasing 50-100 ms and reassess
FECd
Indicates the number of FEC repaired packets if FEC is activated
  • Packets have been lost or corrupted over the network
  • Assess audio quality and the number of FEC repairs in comparison to your Lost packets. If you are still receiving too many lost packets, then you might want to back down on your bit-rate or FEC value.

Summer is here and the pandemic appears to be waning.  While we are still not “out of the woods” as it relates to Covid-19, this is the time of year that you begin to think about equipment needs for the upcoming fall sports season.  Tieline is ready for you with a range of solutions that can fit any budget.

Have any ideas for next month’s Jake’s Take?  Please send your comments and ideas to me at jacob@tieline.com.

Want to know more?

For more information contact Tieline sales:

To find out more technical information about the Tieline ViA, Gateway or Gateway-4 visit www.tieline.com/products.

(Fall Sports Remote Setups, first published June 2021)

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