"for us, the information transmitted is of such vital importance, sometimes life-saving, that the ability to have reliable round-the-clock monitoring and alarm management is not an attractive extra but absolutely essential."
Guy, Le Marc, CEO STIC, Paris, France
I can understand why signal monitoring and network supervision is a useful tool for any broadcaster or broadcast service provider. However, for us, the information transmitted is of such vital importance, sometimes life-saving, that the ability to have reliable round-the-clock monitoring and alarm management is not an attractive extra but absolutely essential.
I am the CEO of STIC, a Paris-based system integrator specializing in the provision of services and networks relating to 107.7 FM – the highway traffic information radio service broadcast on a single frequency throughout France. We operate an extensive network with transmitters installed on average every 7-10 kilometers along a 5000 kilometer stretch of highway. We provide our broadcast customers with complete turnkey solutions –everything from the transmitter itself to the buildings where they are installed and through to the tower and antennas.
Our latest project involved installing a 107.7 FM network along the A63, a recently opened 120 kilometer stretch of highway linking Bordeaux and Bayonne. This required the installation of a Single Frequency Network encompassing a network head-end and 10 synchronous transmitter sites – all of which would require close supervision. The information provided by the 107.7 FM broadcast is of strategic importance and we are required to provide 99.99% service availability. Therefore the selection of suppliers is of critical importance to us to ensure that we can meet this requirement.
For the A63 project, Audemat made us a proposal incorporating both a hardware monitoring platform – the FM Monitoring Silver and a software server package – the Broadcast Manager- which could aggregate the information from each transmitter location and provide us with a global overview of the network.
After careful consideration and research we selected this Audemat solution as the most appropriate for the A63 installation and the only one on the market that provided all the functionality we required. We went live in February 2013.
We have an FM Monitoring Silver platform at each of the 10 transmitter sites and these are all linked via an IP connection to the Broadcast Manager package running at our network operations center. The FM Monitoring Silver units continually monitor the performance of the network and broadcast and can stream or record the audio as required.
The units also feedback other information to let us know what is happening at the site. For example, using the contact closures, we are able to monitor the door contact at any given site and be alerted to the presence of any unexpected visitors!
We have found the system very easy to use and have programmed it with our pre-determined levels of acceptable performance. If any monitored parameter exceeds the acceptable limits, an alarm will be triggered. The alarm is not only shown on the Broadcast Manager display but we have been able to configure the system so that all relevant, available personnel are notified immediately via sms or email of the alarm condition and a repair or maintenance team can be sent to the site to rectify the issue as soon as possible, minimizing or avoiding any disruption to the network.
Since its installation in February, the Audemat solution has proven very reliable and we are extremely pleased with the features it offers and how easy it is to operate. With such an extensive network, we really appreciate the ability to have a centralized overview of multiple sites and still be able to drill down to view an individual parameter at a particular location. This ability combined with the targeted and scheduled alarm management capabilities allows us to operate very efficiently and maximize the use of our resources while still enabling a lightning fast response to problems.
An added benefit was that we were able to order transmitter amplifiers from Audemat’s partner company within the WorldCast Systems group, Ecreso, which meant that we had a fully integrated and compatible system.
The equipment is installed in largely non-air conditioned spaces but we have had absolutely no problems since day one with 24/7 operation.
Note: This article refers to the FM Monitoring Silver, now renamed Audemat FM Probe. It also describes the Broadcast Manager which is now a legacy product but replaced by Kybio, capable of managing networks and equipment from all manufacturers.