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Telecom New Zealand’s new video contribution network

Telecom NZ needed to provide a national contribution video network for two of its major clients - Television New Zealand (TVNZ) and the NZ Racing Board. This major project required building an integrated broadcast network operating across eight New Zealand cities and involved sites in urban and rural locations on both New Zealand’s north and south islands.

Gary Mc Corry, Manager of Television and Radio Services for Telecom NZ said, ‘We had very tight time lines – a two month rollout - and we needed to find a system integrator that would provide the best available equipment for the job.’ The successful tenderer needed to have extensive experience in this type of work and to have managed these sorts of implementations widely within the broadcasting industry. McCorry said, “We knew the company we chose would need to hit the ground running and have resources in New Zealand to be able to roll out a completely new network for TVNZ and the NZ Racing Board that efficiently.”

Gencom was able to demonstrate that it could create a comprehensive network that would serve several client’s who all had differing criteria – including bandwidths, service and latency requirements. Gencom’s CEO, Ray Sanders was enthusiastic about the challenges this project presented in terms of merging a number of state-of-the-art technologies to achieve the unique result required by Telecom within the time frame. “The project involved deliverables by Telecom to both TVNZ and The NZ Racing Board, at the time both clients were already involved with Gencom on related projects. This also meant that Gencom had to coordinate several deadlines to achieve everyone’s expectations.”

To oversee the project Ray Sanders appointed senior staff members Keith Bremner, Account Manager, and Ross Knowles (Gencom’s Integration Manager) as Project Manager. Keith Bremner said, “The system we were supplying had to interface into Telco STM-1 circuits, and be as scalable and flexible as possible, whist still being a cost effective solution to match the clients requirements. This meant we needed to use MPEG2 based encoding, and ASI concentration technology, and have the means to route at the ASI level to allow for add/drop and pass-through facilities at each city centre. The other challenge with these requirements was meeting the extremely low path latency that is needed by a news broadcaster especially when it comes to doing a “live-cross”. For this purpose we provided contribution encoders and concentrators with the lowest possible encoding delay, while still maintaining the best picture quality across low bit rate circuits. We sourced the equipment from Tandberg Television, leaders in the field, who provided 4th generation MPEG2 encoders. These enabled Telecom to provide the most appropriate network to their clients.”

The other technical challenge was to provide an SD/HD video and ASI transport routing system across the eight cities, and to have these all controlled as if they were one large router. To further complicate this Telecom needed to maintain separation between their various broadcast clients, and provide a well-managed multi-hop system that would employ many tie-lines. For example to get video from Invercargill to Auckland may require ten routes and pass through four cities along the way. This can only be practically managed with a very sophisticated control system. Bremner said, “The system Gencom provided makes a near impossible job easy thanks to its advance tie-line management and virtual-router abilities.”

NZ Telecom has extremely high standards of site access security and service levels within its network and this meant that given the tight timeframe Gencom had to be extremely efficient and liaise consistently with many different parties and contractors to achieve the desired outcome. Ross Knowles, Project Manager explains, “The whole system had to be built and commissioned at our Auckland factory before being split up and shipped out simultaneously to the eight sites around New Zealand. Five of these sites had to be deployed simultaneously within a 24hr period following the factory testing. The wiring work went on seven days a week, with the design and documentation work barely staying ahead of the build, and with racks, equipment, cable and hardware being sourced from all over the world.”

 A very good team effort resulted in the entire system being ready on schedule, and temporarily interconnected for the factory commissioning stage.  Barely a week after being released by Gencom’s engineering team, the equipment racks had been stripped down for transport, delivered to the respective sites and reinstalled ready for final onsite testing and end to end commissioning. Weekly informal project meetings had been held in Auckland from the time Gencom was awarded the contract. Issues were dealt with frankly and quickly, and the close co-operation between Telecom and Gencom throughout resulted in this major project with significant design, engineering and logistical challenges being brought to completion relatively smoothly. 

“As often happens in these tight circumstances, a great camaraderie and mutual respect developed among the Gencom and Telecom team which significantly benefited the project overall. Through close cooperation with our clients’ and intensive work by Gencom’s staff all deadlines and budgets were met”, said Ray Sanders.

Gencom has extensive experience in all aspects of television workflows and technology including, DVBT head-ends and contribution and distribution.

For further information about Gencom Technology contact info@gencom.com or
call Ray Sanders +64 9 4156490.

 

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Contact Jennifer Richardson in the first instance with any questions relating to this editorial/ case study or any pictorial enquiries on info@jrdesign.net.au or Tel +61 29332 2213

 

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