SVG Europe Sit-Down: Clear-Com’s Nicki Fisher discusses IP innovations and communications sector developments

Nicki Fisher, sales director EMEA region, Clear-Com

Clear-Com, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, was the first to market portable wired and wireless intercom systems for live performances. Since then it has had a history of technological advancements and innovations that has delivered significant improvements to the way people collaborate in professional settings where real-time communication is vital. Around the globe and across markets, Clear-Com’s solutions have received numerous awards and recognitions for ingenuity and impact to customers. SVG Europe began its Sit Down enquiries by asking Nicki Fisher, sales director EMEA region, to provide more information on Clear-Com’s latest system launch…

You recently launched the all-new FreeSpeak II IP Transceiver (IPT).  What makes this special?

The FreeSpeak II IP Transceiver (IPT) is based on Clear-Com’s new IP Platform solution and features AES67 Connectivity, low latency signal distribution, high performance audio routing with high audio bandwidth. This ensures that any FreeSpeak II Wireless beltpacks can now be addressed across a user’s LAN.  The IPT can be powered easily from either a PoE Switch or local power source. This means that with a distributed 1.9GHz FreeSpeak II IP Transceivers form an entire Wireless Communication network whose reach is only limited by the user’s LAN.

What can we expect from you at IBC?

As we approach IBC our engineering teams are working hard on further exciting solutions with AES67 connectivity. This is only just the beginning of our IP adventure so we look forward to sharing more with you in Amsterdam.

In last year’s Sit Down you anticipated an increase in IP integration within the sports broadcasting sector. Has that prediction been fulfilled – and what are your solutions to meet that that requirement?

Absolutely – IP integration is at the forefront of many requirements in the sports broadcasting sector. We have seen an increase in the uptake of the E-IPA high density audio- intercom over IP System card for the Eclipse HX system, which together with the IP Transceiver (IPT) connects via an AES67 switch, providing outstanding coverage and low latency distribution.

The LQ series of devices has also been extensively used to facilitate a clear and simple intercom connection from analogue to IP between main control rooms and remote sites, as we saw at the recent event in PyeongChang in South Korea.

Apart from IP, have the demands of sports broadcasters changed during recent times?

For sports broadcasters we are also seeing an increasing demand for wireless solutions particularly in light of the upcoming 700MHz clearance. With the spectrum being so densely populated in many areas, broadcasters value the option of having a choice of frequencies. Our FreeSpeak II wireless system has options for 1.9 GHz and 2.4 GHz, which allow the selection of the optimum solution for the specific venue. The new GPIO connectivity on the FreeSpeak II Base station provides additional value for venues to inter-connect their radio systems and enable access for security and other applications.

Two years ago you acquired Trilogy Communications. What has been the impact on your business?

Since the acquisition of Trilogy Communications and the introduction of the Mentor RG in April 2017, we have seen a significant positive impact on our sales of SPGs. The Mentor RG introduced PTP (Precision Timing Protocol) for IP networks and this was a very complementary product for the Clear-Com channel to add to their portfolio alongside other IP based solutions.

Is there any particular recent project that presented interesting challenges?

Extreme weather and long distances can always present challenges for any industry and none greater than when you are dealing with the largest winter sporting event televised to millions around the world.  The PyeongChang event earlier this year offered all of this in abundance; however, it provided no obstacle for the Clear-Com intercom and connectivity equipment, ensuring safe and reliable connections for ZDF in Germany and the Discovery Teams in France and the UK.

What is your view of the future for your sector of the broadcasting industry?

I think it’s fair to say that broadcasters recognise the need to focus on OTT distribution along with content and customer experience. This is particularly important for sports content with more and more viewers demanding seamless engagement across multiple devices. Content anytime, anywhere! 

With that comes the expectation of higher quality, lower latency and feeling to be part of the action – something that Clear-Com has a strong history of with the live market. From the early days of Rock and Roll to the present day, we offer 50 years of experience in communicating the action. Who would want to miss out on that?

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