Fall Tech

Telos Alliance Launches Cloud-Based, Time-Locked, FM + HD Radio Air-Chain

Nautel and Telos Alliance announced the newest milestone in their collaborative approach to improving the FM+HD air-chain. The companies illustrated their approach via a concept demonstration showing how a fully time-locked FM+HD air-chain can be easily managed via the cloud.

“Even before the virus forced major changes in how stations created programming, virtualization was being considered and adopted,” said Marty Sacks, EVP of Sales, Support and Marketing at Telos Alliance. “The combination of AoIP, networkable products, and servers (either in house or cloud) made it possible to continue operating regular programming, both locally and on a network level, despite a forced decentralization of staff. Now Nautel and Telos Alliance are taking the advances in virtualization to the next level by showing that it is possible to move the entire HD Radio air-chain into a virtual environment.”

Cloud operation has long been used by IT firms and businesses that manage large amounts of data. It reduces the number of physical servers required by these companies, reducing energy needs and floor space, adds high levels of redundancy for reliable operation, and enables rapid upgrading of software. Moving operations to the cloud – “Virtualization” – has become an increasing reality for broadcasters as well. When the COVID-19 pandemic began early this year, radio stations throughout the world utilized virtualization techniques to enable their air talent to broadcast safely from home.

“An important aspect of a robust virtual network is failover, which is the system’s ability to switch to backup paths should something happen to the primary one,” said Philipp Schmid, Nautel CTO. “Our demonstration clearly showed the inherent availability of backups in a cloud-hosted air-chain. We included two failover events, switching our air-chain from Ohio to Brazil, then to a Nautel HD MultiCast+ acting as a physical resilient node. In all cases, the program flow was only briefly interrupted.”

In prior webinars, Nautel and Telos Alliance demonstrated a novel approach to HD Radio operation, using software-implemented audio processing and Nautel’s Gen4 HD MultiCast+, to completely eliminate time alignment drift through locking the FM + HD1 signals. The latest demonstration showed how this time-locked air-chain could be hosted in the cloud, utilizing the Telos Alliance Omnia Enterprise 9s high-density audio processor, a software-based Gen4 Importer/Exporter, and Nautel technology all running on the Amazon Web Services platform.

“The opportunities offered to radio broadcasters through virtualization are immense,” said Kevin Rodgers, Nautel President and CEO. “It brings not only cost savings through a reduction in physical equipment; it makes group operations of multiple stations much easier and allows near-instantaneous upgrading of services with little downtime. The flexibility and ease of transitioning to HD Radio become simpler than ever, allowing broadcasters to scale their operational requirements up and down as needed and offering new revenue opportunities.”

Both companies noted that further development and the release of additional products will be needed prior to full deployment of this technology in the industry, but that current products such as the Omnia Enterprise 9s and the Nautel HD MultiCast+ ensure a path that will facilitate these new approaches to simplifying the air-chain.

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