SVG Sit-Down: Telstra’s Steve Dargham on America’s Cup Transmission Needs

World feed will be distributed to 60+ rightsholders globally on fiber, internet, partner networks

The America’s Cup (AC36) may not feature any teams from the Americas (New Zealand squares off with Italy beginning this weekend), but, given its location in Auckland, NZ, it will feature plenty of broadcasters and long-distance transmission connectivity. Steven Dargham, head of major events, Telstra Broadcast Services, discussed the company’s efforts around the world-feed distribution and more with SVG Editorial Director Ken Kerschbaumer.

Telstra Broadcast Services’ Steve Dargham: “Proven hybrid delivery models make broadcasters open to flexible delivery solutions that incorporate new technology.”

How many rightsholders, etc. are riding on the Telstra pipes?
Telstra distributed AC36’s world feed to over 60 global media- and digital-rights holders on its global fiber, internet, and affiliated partner networks. Hundreds of countries will receive AC36 from broadcasters with rights in multiple regions.

 Any sense of how many circuits and total bandwidth will be used?
To accommodate large-bandwidth acquisition, Telstra deployed dual 10GigE over diverse dark-fiber backbone from AC36’s International Broadcast Centre to dual Telstra Global Media Network PoPs in Auckland. The feeds then travel across the Tasman to Telstra’s Broadcast Operations Centre in Sydney, which acts as the centralized global distribution hub to rights-holding broadcasters. The aggregated content is delivered over the internet for streaming and on subsea cables with protected capacity of up to 5 Gig.

Everyone’s needs are different. How is your team meeting some of the different demands?
AC36 is one of our most recent exciting projects and is different compared to our delivery of the 2010 Americas Cup from Valencia, Spain. This year, we had to build a flexible network solution to accommodate COVID impacts, such as a remote-production model, advanced multiservice media-edge equipment, Ethernet data services, and high-speed internet services, as well as reduced onsite engineers. A range of high-quality media-edge hardware deployed to support H.264 encoding, RTMP, Zixi and SRT, J2K, and remote-production–capable equipment. The multiservice edge equipment backhauled all contents to the Telstra Broadcast Operations Centre (Telstra BOC) in Sydney, where the centralized booking, monitoring, and distribution to global media- and digital-rights holders took place.

Telstra has a two-person team on hand in Auckland for the America’s Cup.

How many people are onsite from Telstra?
The initial plan was to have six operations and engineering staff in Auckland. Instead, we have two onsite staff at the International Broadcast Center in Auckland, 24×7 live-operations support, and AC36 booking staff at the Telstra Broadcast Operations Centre in Sydney, and the remainder of our operations and engineering support in Paris and London.

What has been the biggest challenge working this event compared with others?
It’s no secret COVID created new challenges for live sporting events. However, at the same time, it created new opportunities of delivering large events. In the past, broadcasters were reluctant to adopt new delivery models. The challenge of having minimal onsite engineers was overcome with the trust in the engineers and our global remote-production, fiber and internet delivery models. Proven hybrid delivery models make broadcasters open to flexible delivery solutions that incorporate new technology.

Does Telstra have a major presence naturally in New Zealand, or is it smaller connectivity that heads up to a larger hub in Sydney?
Telstra has an established presence in New Zealand, with an agile operating model with local telecommunications providers. Telstra has key points of presence on its Global Media Network to service multinationals with content from New Zealand and Pacific Islands.


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