By Ian Duddridge, Engineering Director, Telesto Broadcast Solutions, with contributions from Loan Hon Pheng, Project Manager, Telesto Broadcast Solutions.
Mediacorp is a Singapore media company that pioneered the development of Singapore’s broadcasting industry. In 2016, Mediacorp relocated to a new office in Mediapolis@one-north, Singapore’s first digital media hub. The Mediacorp Campus is the anchor tenant at the 19-hectare media hub and features two large studios, post production suites, plus news gathering and broadcasting facilities.
Mediacorp broadcasts 12 stereo radio channels in Singapore. As a result, they required a new and reliable solution for delivering programme content from Mediapolis to their Bukit Batok transmitter site in western Singapore.
Telesto Broadcast Solutions Pte Ltd, a system integrator based in Singapore, participated in Mediacorp’s tender process for 56 audio codecs in 2014. Telesto has a substantial track record of successfully implementing similar innovative transmitter link systems in Brunei and throughout Australasia. They recommended Tieline codec solutions to Mediacorp and were subsequently awarded the tender in 2015.
Network Design & Innovation
In parallel with the construction of new premises at Mediapolis, Mediacorp’s engineers had the opportunity to review and implement innovative workflows, systems and equipment for their new studios prior to moving there in 2016. IP was the primary and backup transport of choice and Telesto Broadcast Solutions worked closely with Mediacorp to design a tailored solution encompassing Tieline’s TLR5200M Merlin codec, together with the Tieline CMS (Codec Management System). Mediacorp had stringent IP redundancy requirements and Telesto outlined the salient features of Tieline’s Merlin codecs in line with operational requirements.
Stereo STL data is transported over separate fibre and microwave links to maximise IP packet redundancy and minimise service interruption. 24 Merlin codecs are used to transmit and receive 16 bit linear PCM audio at 48kHz sampling over the primary fibre links. 24 backup Merlins encode and decode with 24 bit aptX Enhanced encoding at 48kHz sampling and these act as a hot standby for each primary connection. This means that all components can be exchanged and replaced at any time and there is no common single point of failure in either the main or back up hardware configurations. 4 codecs at each end are also configured with backup programs so they can be swapped out with any of the other 48 codecs installed.
Using common technology for both the main and backup systems has reduced training and configuration requirements. It also ensures there is a minimal requirement for holding spare parts.
Key Feature Requirements
Tieline’s SmartStream PLUS technology delivers seamless and silent switching of IP data packets sent across diverse LAN/WAN networks. This was a key Mediacorp requirement for the main and backup links.
By integrating dual redundant downstream switches, the possible failure of any hardware component is covered by switching to the backup path. This applies to the codecs, the network switch or the fibre/microwave link.
Both physical ports on the codec are set up with multiple IP connections that effectively build a mesh of connections between the source and the destination. It was not sufficient to treat the fibre link and the microwave link as the only main and backup connection, it was also necessary to look at the way the audio is transported to each physical interconnection.
Management and Implementation
For the studio-to-transmitter links, Telesto Project Manager, Loan Hon Pheng, liaised with Mediacorp and their overarching systems integrator to ensure timely delivery and installation of all hardware. All codecs were thoroughly bench tested, configured and loaded with the latest firmware. This preparatory work led to a seamlessly fast install and commissioning when building infrastructure was completed.
Tieline’s Codec Management System (CMS) is installed and used to control and configure all codecs installed and offers network management tools for remote control, monitoring and configuration. It allows Mediacorp to create and manage primary and backup connections, view audio PPMs and IP statistics to maintain mission critical connections. You can also adjust individual codec settings like algorithms, jitter buffers and forward error correction. The system also offers detailed alarm and fault detection information.
After installation and final commissioning, Tieline’s Charlie Gawley provided training to Mediacorp’s engineers. He commented that he was “impressed with the engineers’ knowledge of the product and its capabilities,” which was testament to the meticulous groundwork and preparation by both Telesto and Mediacorp.
Overall the project has been a huge success and has been operating flawlessly since handover in 2016.
Telesto Broadcast Solutions has provided widespread advice and support to broadcasters throughout the Asian region. The company has a relationship with Tieline that goes back over 10 years and the company has sold and supported the entire range of Tieline audio codecs for both Outside Broadcast and studio-to-transmitter link applications. Factory support is delivered within the region and clients can also call upon the full assistance of the excellent Tieline support team at the factory in Perth, Western Australia.
For more information about Merlin and other Tieline codecs, visit http://www.tieline.com.