The MEDIA BROADCAST TV specialists report from South Africa

HD wide Area Network

A report from the technical control centre of this global mega event.

Bernd Suchanek, Ferenc Varga, Abrie Grobler and Rainer Hans make up the MEDIA BROADCAST team in the Technical Operation Center (TOC) at the World Cup stadium in Cape Town. Along with our teams in other venues across South Africa they are responsible for making sure that the HD connections from the "hot spots" of this World Cup, the stadiums, to the IBC (International Broadcasting Center) in Johannesburg work without a hitch.

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With their good preparation, exemplary commitment and immense creativity, they are the backbone of the international TV transmission network. They ensure that "their" connections stand ready at all times so that the signals can be sent to the team in the IBC with the best possible quality and reliability.
Sometimes they need a really creative approach. With the individual configuration of the network termination points of the nationwide glass fibre supply network, for example. Or when items of equipment arrive late, or when there are unforeseen events such as power cuts or heavy downpours. In these situations it is essential to keep a clear head.

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Ready for the quarter finals too: Data highway with 43 high speed lines in marathon operation

Two HD signal routes in a permanent state of readiness connect each stadium with the International Broadcast Centre in Johannesburg. This means reports can be transmitted from the individual venues at any time. When any World Cup matches are played here in Cape Town things really get busy.
And the quarter-final meeting between Germany and Argentina will be no exception. On the day of the match the network will be extended to include even more channels. A grand total of up to 35 HD transmission lines and eight HD return lines will makes the 1,405 km journey from Green Point stadium in Cape Town to the IBC in Johannesburg with virtually guaranteed 100% reliability.
But the network is not only on duty between the kick off and the final whistle: the pre-match period begins two hours before the match and the last HD signal is only taken off the network two hours after the end of the game. This means a marathon day for both the stadium team in Cape Town and the IBC in Johannesburg. The common goal is clear: the signal must not fail, not even for a millisecond. All the precautions that are humanly possible have been taken to make this objective a reality.
Every system is carried to the IBC along two different glass fibre lines in order to achieve the greatest possible reliability. Cape Town, for example, is connected directly to Johannesburg, while another connection runs via Port Elizabeth. The signals are sent along both routes. If one glass fibre connection should fail the systems are in a position to switch to the other line seamlessly, with no interruption at all.
The process of lining up the network is carried out a short time before the actual HD transmissions get underway. The stadium team will therefore start getting everything ready early on Saturday morning and they will not take their eyes off the multi-screen monitors that show all the HD signals until late in the evening, towards 11pm.

Towels save high tech equipment

In Europe, the summer weather is treating football fans to fantastic sunshine with tropical temperatures. In South Africa, however, everyone is having to dress up warmly: it is winter in the southern hemisphere. And that has brought some unexpected risks to the expensive equipment, which was all preconfigured in Germany. Following a heavy downpour it turned out that the roof of the TOC container in Cape Town was far from watertight. Rainwater was dripping from the ceiling right next to the expensive glass fibre transmission equipment, threatening the valuable infrastructure. A red alert was sounded.
The solution was as simple as it was effective: towels were drafted in to protect the sensitive electronics. It just shows that sometimes simplicity is the best option.  Despite the successful use of towel technology the leaking areas of the roof were immediately sealed - just to be on the safe side.

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