Communicorp Group knows the value of strong brands, operating major media properties that include commercial Irish radio stations Today FM and Newstalk. An investment in technology is delivering not only the enhanced business resilience that protects Communicorp’s reputation, but also a key strategic asset as it continues to innovate.
The broadcast radio industry is by definition distributed, with hard-to-reach FM transmission sites that present a challenge when the decision is taken to unify those resources. That’s exactly what Communicorp opted to do in 2014, when it decided the time was right to bring its transmission sites into a national wide area network (WAN) that would improve company-wide connectivity, business resilience and overall technological capability.
“At the time, we were coming out of one of our arrangements with a third-party partner,” explains Pat Balfe, Chief Technical Officer for Communicorp. Services from the outside provider included connectivity and transmitter telemetry (data about a transmitter’s status, temperature and other metrics). The company knew it wanted to take over telemetry itself, and to bring its transmission sites into one network.
The only technology solution that made sense, Pat explains, was wireless, which limited Communicorp to just a handful of options including 3G cellular and satellite.
“There was also a third option: to go with a terrestrial provider that had its own footprint, and that’s what we chose,” he says. “No one else had the level of footprint Airspeed did, so we approached them and explained what we wanted. They understood immediately. That -- their instant grasp of what we needed the network to do and why -- was really the standout for us.”
Licensed wireless network rollout across Ireland
Airspeed Telecom and Communicorp at a glance:
- design and delivery of a new nationwide licensed wireless IP network
- 2Mbps connections delivered to transmitter sites all over Ireland
- rapid time to delivery facilitates Communicorp’s business need
- consultative, partnership approach to network design and delivery
- new nationwide WAN acts as a secondary audio distribution network for resilience, and enables transmitter management
- proven, transparent failover to secondary audio distribution network
- flexible IP network provides basis for future innovation
Airspeed worked with Communicorp to design a new, nationwide 2Mbps network to connect as many of its transmitters as possible to a single WAN. The WAN not only had to act as a management network providing telemetry information to its engineers, it also needed to facilitate Communicorp’s plans for multicast.
“We wanted to send our broadcasts via a multicast IP stream, as backup to our primary radio transmission,” Pat explains. “The idea was that this new audio distribution network would provide better resilience and uptime protection for all our FM stations.”
Today the new Communicorp network does just this, connecting transmitter sites across the country, and the backup via IP is always active and ready to go, providing seamless failover in the event the primary FM feed becomes unavailable.
“The failover works, and the quality is good,” he says. “Because so many of our sites are now directly linked by microwave radio, we actually have better connectivity across our organisation than we ever have.
A partnership for innovation
Communicorp recently connected its twenty-third transmitter directly via the Airspeed network, and more sites are coming on stream as Airspeed’s national points of presence continue to grow. This WAN not only means that Communicorp is more resiliently connected than ever, it also acts as a key infrastructural resource which the company can use as the basis for innovation.
"It’s a changing world,” Pat says. "The network is an important asset, especially in an industry as competitive as ours. Our investment lets us future- proof ourselves and give us flexibility in this space."
A vital part of that flexibility is the responsiveness of its partners, an area where Airspeed excels, he says. "Their time to deliver is just incredible – they’re also extremely competent and really understand this market at all levels. That’s exactly what we need."
For more information on Communicorp, visit communicorp.ie.