Meeting Report: August 2018 Commercial Radio Networking with SCASat

Meeting Report – August 2018

On Monday August 13th, following a short Section AGM, Dan Jackson Head of Audio Operations at the major commercial radio network Southern Cross Austereo, (SCA) gave the Melbourne Section a presentation on SCA’s groundbreaking national networking system, SCASat.

Dan Jackson describes SCASat at the August meeting – photo Rod Staples

 

 

 

 

 

 

After relating a potted version of his 9 year history with SCA, Dan described the makeup of SCA and briefly discussed the merging of the businesses of the Austereo metropolitan radio network with the Southern Cross regional network, which brought together a mixture of terrestrial and satellite audio and data networking systems of limited flexibility.

Both existing systems had only two channels, with the Austereo system using Harris Intraplex coding equipment over a terrestrial data WAN, and Southern Cross used a satellite system with a range of equipment of various vintages.
He then outlined the wish-list they developed at the outset of the project –
Content creators simply wanted more channels, and for it to be easier to use.
Engineering had a longer list – no RS 485 or RS232, or contact closure/optos for control, and use of the latest codecs like Fraunhoffer AAC/AAC+/AAC-HE, as well as the ability to delay the data at the remote end for time-zone synchronisation.

He went on to describe the selection process, and detailed the Telos iPort hardware that was ultimately selected as the cornerstone of the project. He then described the fully redundant satellite and terrestrial WAN network that was developed to fulfill the task.

He then went into detail on the hardware, concentrating on the Telos iPort multi-codec gateway device, with its 32 channels of audio codecs, a 512MB solid-state drive for time-zone delay of both audio and control signals, synchronization of timing of the WAN and satellite signals, and Livewire Audio-over-IP interfacing. He commented that all of this is realized in a single 2-Rack-Unit high box, which has no moving parts (not even a fan) making it a most reliable device.
He also briefly covered the Novra satellite receivers, and described the current usage of the system – with 18 multicast streams with the premium channels operating at 192kbps AAC, and the predominantly voice sports channels at 128kbps. In addition to this there are a pair of WAN-based itinerant circuits using low delay aptX coding for interactive applications.

Dan then covered the scheduling software developed by AVC, which provides a very user-friendly way for the stations’ content staff to schedule transmission or receipt of content over the network, commenting that this has eliminated the need for the involvement of engineering staff in facilitating changes to the network schedule.
He showed sample screenshots, and how the simple user interface permits the content staff to create and edit events independently.

During the follow up Q&A Dan logged into the scheduling software via a secure session and was able to demonstrate the simplicity of its operation.

The Q&A session generated a wide range of questions on many aspects of the system, and demonstrated the keen interest of the audience in the subject.

We thank Dan for a most interesting and informative present

Video below is of slides plus audio

The Video can also be viewed directly on YouTube at:
https://youtu.be/rN56fYjnlk8

PDF copies of the slide deck used on the evening can be viewed or downloaded here

The audio only recording can be heard or downloaded here

Other related links:

Telos iPort product page
https://www.telosalliance.com/Telos/iPort
Telos white paper on SCASat
https://www.telosalliance.com/images/SCAsat%20Audio%20Distribution.pdf
Telos Livewire description
https://www.telosalliance.com/Axia/Livewire-AoIP-Networking

Novra satellite receiver
https://novra.com/product/s300d-receiver

Thanks to Graham Haynes and his trusty Tascam for the audio recording, and a special thanks to
The SAE Institute for the use of their excellent facilities

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