Broadcasting Center Europe goes live with IP infrastructure for RTL City facility

Broadcasting Center Europe (BCE) has gone live with Snell Advanced Media’s end-to-end IP infrastructure at RTL Group’s new Luxembourg headquarters, RTL City. SAM was chosen following rigorous testing by Broadcasting Center Europe (BCE), the systems integrator for the project, which was designed to consolidate all the broadcaster’s operations in one location.

The new system supports programme broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a number of channels including RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg, Chamber TV (Luxembourg), RTL TVI, Club RTL, Plug TV (Belgium), RTL4, RTL5, RTL7, RTL8, RTL Z (Netherlands), RTL9 and AB Groupe movie channels (France).

Jean Lampach, Chief Technology and Development Officer at BCE commented, “Having undertaken extensive and highly competitive tests into the suppliers within the market, SAM’s experience and product offering was truly unmatched. They quickly understood our business needs and challenges, and have technology that offers flexibility and scalability, making them the right partner to help undertake our IP deployment. They put the needs of our customers at the core, and as a result they ensured a smooth transition path that will enable us to continue to deliver exemplary services as we evolve.”

BCE wanted the new infrastructure to be both future-proof and able to adapt to new workflow challenges as needed. When BCE first began to assess SDI replacement in 2014, the available IP technology wasn’t suitable for real-world deployments or mission-critical broadcast use and most solutions were proprietary. The process resumed in 2015 with six months of intensive technical testing. It was critical that the IP solution had the same quality of service and reliability achieved with SDI; BCE wanted the same level of scalability, stability, propagation delays and synchronisation.

At the end of this evaluation period, SAM was selected as the main IP technology supplier to provide an end-to-end IP routing system for RTL City. SAM was chosen for its ability to demonstrate full SMPTE ST 2022-7 redundant hitless operation, with seamless recovery from interruption to one IP link. SAM had a clear on-air upgrade path from ST 2022-6 and VSF TR-04 to TR-03/ST 2110 with AES67 support throughout.

Other factors in SAM’s favour were the ability to deliver 40GbE network technology and reliable fast SDI-level performance and clean (COTS IP) switching, with no SDN required. SAM’s media flows and control system also exhibited the best up-times, reliability and fast error recovery. SAM was able to demonstrate the system at scale, with the final solution handling x960 2022-6 video flows, x1103 AES67 (each x8 AES3) audio flows using more than 1104 ports.

SAM was able to demonstrate comprehensive user intuitive router control, transparent to the operator whether in SDI, IP or hybrid operation, on both traditional software and hardware router panels, including multi-level routing support with VSF TR-04 for audio breakaways. Interoperability with third-party control systems means it is easy for users to control the routing in the system via SAM router controllers.

The SAM IP routing system combines SAM’s Kahuna IP production switchers, IQ-Edge IP processing systems, IP routing control systems and IP Multiviewers. It provides BCE with a flexible IP architecture for the future. The initial deployment is based around VSF TR-04 using SMPTE ST 2022-6/7 & AES67 redundant IP streams with a seamless migration to VSF TR-03.

The SAM IP routing system consists of the following equipment:

  • Redundant COTS IP switches supplied by SAM: Arista 7508R and Juniper QFX10008, supporting both 10Gbe and 40GbE connectivity.
  • SAM IP routing control system with full redundancy, including a direct interface to the Lawo VSM (Virtual Studio Manager) control layer
  • SAM monitoring system, collecting data from the IP sub-system, with a direct interface to the Skyline DataMiner monitoring layer
  • SAM Edge devices with VSF TR-04 and “ST 2022-7” redundancy support
  • IQMIX cards for IP⬄SDI conversion, and IQAMD cards for IP⬄MADI conversion
  • Audio XS software audio stream processors & IQ Edge video stream processors
  • Kahuna IP production switchers & sQ IP video servers
  • MV-820 IP Multiviewers
  • SAM interfacing to 3rd party edge devices for IP streams input and output control
  • Grass Valley “LDX 86” IP studio cameras
  • Studer audio mixing consoles
  • Harmonic “SpectrumX and Electra X2” IP playout servers and encoders.

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