Barix AG, a pioneer in IP-based audio, intercom and control/monitoring, today announced that Clear Channel Satellite Services of Englewood, Colorado, is using Barix Instreamer, Exstreamer and Barionet devices for point-to-multipoint IP connectivity from Englewood to Clear Channel Radio towers throughout the southeastern United States. The system, launched in June in advance of the 2006 hurricane season, connects radio stations in the Gulf region. Clear Channel stations in this region can now remain on the air in the event that studios go dark in extreme weather or other disaster conditions, allowing stations to broadcast important information to local populations in emergency situations.
The Englewood facility streams audio 24/7/365 directly to radio towers, using Barix Instreamer and Exstreamer devices to encode and decode audio in preparation for broadcast if studios experience power outages. The Barionets, installed with the Exstreamers at each radio tower site, are used to activate and automatically switch the Exstreamer backup audio feed for transmission over the air. The Barionet devices are controlled via the Englewood facilities over the IP connection established over the Satellite.
Clear Channel radio stations in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas are now connected to the system. Clear Channel Satellite Services hopes to expand the system using Barix devices to connect nearly 900 towers over the next year ? a feat that would provide Satellite IP audio connectivity to all Clear Channel radio stations from Englewood.
?Hurricane Katrina and the chaos that occurred following the storm prompted us to research how we could better connect Clear Channel properties during disaster situations,? said Don Harms, president and general manager of Clear Channel Satellite Services. ?Clear Channel Radio reaches approximately 98 percent of the U.S. population. We needed a reliable approach to keep our towers alive at all times so we could keep residents of affected areas informed through terrestrial radio. When studios and towers go dark, area residents are not receiving the information they need about what is coming next and where to get relief. These crucial points of communication were missing during Katrina when radio stations were unable to light their towers.?
According to Harms, Clear Channel Satellite Services researched 15 to 20 systems that would allow the Englewood facility to distribute emergency information over IP to multiple towers, with Barix winning the contract for a variety of reasons. ?The goal was to implement a system that would allow us to better facilitate our basic IP connectivity capabilities over our previously installed DVB-RSCS platform (Digital Video Broadcast output for Return Subscriber Channels),? said Harms. ?Since this was a tertiary system, it was not funded or budgeted ahead of time ? which means we needed a highly cost-effective system with proven reliability. Barix outperformed all the competition in terms of price, reliability, adaptability, and speed of delivery.?
The delivery stage was crucial as Clear Channel Satellite Services had less than three months to bring the first sites online, and Harms pointed out that Barix?s ability to provide an off-the-shelf product was a major advantage. The company installed an Instreamer bank in Englewood and built 1RU boxes featuring Barionet and Exstreamer devices outfitted for each transmission/tower site. The Barionets and Exstreamers are outfitted with DVB-RSCS satellite receiver modules for interoperability with its existing IP connectivity platform. The entire network can be controlled and monitored from the Englewood facility over an internal WAN (wide area network).
Many Clear Channel stations have also installed Barix Instreamers for backup audio feeds. In the event of STL failure, the station can feed audio over satellite directly to the Englewood facility, which then redirects the native feed over IP to the station?s transmission site through its Instreamer bank. This provides additional security for radio stations that have power but are stricken with a severed STL connection.
Harms added that Barix?s adaptability was a key factor in his decision. ?Barix added pre-buffering specifications at our request. In live audio, bit losses become an annoyance when you are faced with outages and audio dropouts. The addition of three-to-five seconds of pre-buffering means that any loss of bits are generally barely discernible to the human ear. The pre-buffering made the Barix platform very acceptable for this application.? Harms added that Barix also added password and site ID protection to safeguard control of the devices over the WAN at his request.
?Barix is proud to play a key role in this important project for Clear Channel Satellite Services.? said Johannes G. Rietschel, CEO of Barix. ?Terrestrial radio is often the most important source of information for populations around the world, and sometimes the only source of information. Therefore it is crucial that radio stations can rely on flexible, high-performance technology that will allow them to continue broadcasting in emergency situations. The IP realm is an excellent resource for cost-effective audio streaming to transmission sites, and Clear Channel Satellite?s vision for tower connectivity is sure to be viewed as an example for keeping stations on the air in even the darkest times.
?Beyond STL connectivity and confidence checking, we are pleased that the radio industry is beginning to look at Barix products for security purposes,? added Rietschel. ?Our products are ideal for security applications due to their reliability and low-power, PC-free design.?
About Clear Channel Satellite Services
Clear Channel Satellite Services Inc. (CCSS) is a leading US satellite systems integrator providing comprehensive network and space-time services. Specializing in mission critical systems for broadcasting audio, video and data, enterprise recovery services, business grade internet/intranet access, paging and full range of unique applications. CCSS provides protected space-time services worldwide with prime capacity on SES Americom fleet. CCSS is an authorized reseller of equipment manufactures including: AVL/TracStar, Andrews, Agilis, Baird, Prodelin, Radyne/ComStream, Comtech/EFData, Miteq,EMS, NJRC, Norsat, Rad, Starguide, Suman, Terasat and Wegener satellite systems. SCPC, MCPC, TDMA, DAMA and DVB/RCS platforms are supported from our 24-hour network operations center including automated satellite spectrum monitoring, customer care and repair service center located in Englewood Colorado. More information on the company can be found at www.clearchannelsatellite.com
About Barix AG (www.barix.com)
Barix AG, headquartered in Zurich Switzerland, specializes in research and development of state of the art IP based communication and control technology. Barix products are stand-alone and able to remotely connect worldwide over standard networks / Internet offering new and improved solutions to the professional audio distribution, communication and automation industry. Barix products provide solutions in audio over IP (audio distribution and monitoring, communication, security) and automation (remote controlling, monitoring and maintenance).