As part of a comprehensive renewal of their headends for the internal transmission of television and radio programmes as well as additional data and services, EuroMedia-Service GmbH, together with the technology company WISI, has implemented a turnkey, redundant supply solution for Deutschlandradio's two broadcasting centres in Cologne and Berlin.
Quality media such as Deutschlandradio are considered as a central pillar of the forming of the democratic opinion and political will. With their reporting, the commercial-free Deutschlandradio programmes Deutschlandfunk, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and Deutschlandfunk Nova play a major role in shaping social debate and provide background information on current topics in politics, business, science, society, culture and sport. Deutschlandfunk alone has an audience of around 2.2 million listeners every day. The specialist editorial teams depend on comprehensive access to current news and information sources for their work. This includes the constant evaluation of local, regional and national television and radio programmes as well as international TV programmes, which are brought in via the Internet. In addition, the station's own broadcast signals must be monitored around the clock. For this reason, all workstations are equipped with multifunctional screen receivers.
Copyright: Deutschlandradio © Simon Detel
The supply of the workstations relies predominantly on satellite TV and radio programmes via the reception systems newly installed at each location. Further programmes are received via DVB-T, DAB+ and the Internet and fed into the headend. In the headends, the programmes are converted into IPTV streams and into DVB-C format for transmission to the workstations and TV receivers connected via the in-house networks. In addition, high-quality audio signals are provided for further processing in broadcast and production.
The TANGRAM headend system used converts 40 DVB/S2 satellite transponders into IPTV. In addition, it converts IPTV into 36 QAM channels (DVB-C). The IPTV streams from both broadcasting sites serve as redundancy for the other site.
WISI's fully software-controlled CHAMELEON headend system can convert external HDMI and HD-SDI signals into IPTV streams. Further distribution then takes place via the respective LAN network to the connected workstations. Two IPTV streams are converted into HD-SDI.
A maximum bandwidth of 200 Mbit/s in the Deutschlandradio LAN for multicast streaming of IPTV signals was agreed upon. For the streaming of 24 HD IPTV services, which are transcoded according to H.264 and have a bandwidth of 5 Mbit/s each, 120 Mbit/s are allocated. The streaming service for the editorial offices includes public service programmes such as ARD and ZDF, German and international news programmes as well as the web streams of the Bundestag and Bundesrat.
Both headends can be controlled via a remote interface, which proved of value especially during the pandemic. The terminal-compatible programme lists can be managed centrally. In addition, the solution offers all standard service and monitoring functions and is designed for 24/7 operation. The mirroring of the two headends ensures the redundancy of the components used in the event of malfunctions and system failures.
IPTV end devices are office PCs with stream players and IPTV flat panels. Moreover, a large number of different DVB-C set-top boxes and TV panels are connected to the DVB-C cable network.
The IPTV channel lists can be distributed centrally to all office PCs and IPTV flat panels via a web server. This operating concept eliminates time-consuming device administration for IPTV channel list changes.
To date, the broadcasting centre in Cologne was supplied via a BK network and an in-house headend. Programmes were fed in via satellite (DVB-S/S2) and terrestrially via DVB-T, DAB and FM. At the Funkhaus Berlin, the programme service fed in via an external provider ensured the basic supply of the BK network. Furthermore, a separate headend distributed some additional programmes, received via satellite, DVB-T and VHF, to the editorial offices in the building. In order to ensure a minimum supply of TV and FM programmes via the signal feed this headend also processed replacement programmes for automatic feeding into the in-house distribution network.
Since the two older headends at the locations no longer met current requirements and technical extensions of the existing systems were not possible, a completely new and long-term viable supply solution had to be found.
One goal was to set up a basic supply for the two broadcasting centres that is independent of cable programme providers via two powerful headends that can be expanded at any time for future technologies and applications. Since the office areas are basically supplied via IPTV and the IPTV streams are played back via a stream player on the PC or via TV sets, the new technical solution should also include identical IP-based systems. Additionally, both headends should function as autonomously operating systems in normal operation. In order to ensure continued operation in the event of a potential emergency at one location, the two systems should also be linked via a high-performance data connection between both broadcasting studios.
After comprehensive joint analyses with the Deutschlandradio team on site, EuroMedia Service GmbH and technology partner WISI developed a concept for the mirror-image 1:1 installation of two digital headends with the energy-efficient WISI systems Chameleon and Tangram. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, installation, test operation and training of the Deutschlandradio staff who would later control the systems used and the headend took only nine months. The old headends continued to operate until the smooth transfer of functions and tasks to the new systems.
"In our concept for Deutschlandradio, we deliberately focused on sustainable products and solutions. One of our focal points was the use of components that are characterised by their particular energy efficiency. Compared to the headend technology we replaced, we achieve very significant electricity savings. With our solution, it will also be possible to use mobile devices for accessing IPTV content at the office workstations instead of classic TV sets even more than in the past," says EuroMedia Managing Director Christoph Tiede, describing some of the other advantages of the solution.
The WISI TANGRAM video platform is a high density digital TV headend for contribution and distribution of digital TV via IP networks and end to end IPTV systems. It stands for highest performance in the smallest space and can be used for On Demand TV, Connected TV and OTT (Over The Top) aka Web TV. The platform can be flexibly set up and configured according to customer requirements.
CHAMELEON is a modular head-end system that uses only one type of module. The integrated modules can change their function as needed. They are designed for all current and future applications and are ideally suited both for the transition from the analogue to the digital world and for the connection between HFC and IP distribution platforms.
Deutschlandradio was founded in 1994 and, as the national radiobroadcasting pillar, forms one of the three cornerstones of public broadcasting in Germany together with ARD and ZDF. The broadcaster, which has dual headquarters in Cologne and Berlin, produces Deutschlandfunk, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and Deutschlandfunk Nova, three commercial-free radio programmes broadcast nationwide via satellite, DAB+ and the Internet. Deutschlandfunk and Deutschlandfunk Kultur can also be received via FM in numerous regions.
Cologne-based EuroMedia-Service GmbH distributes technical systems in the fields of broadcasting, streaming and multimedia and bundles them into customised, optimal solutions. The system integrator, founded in 2007, works closely with leading technology manufacturers of system technology for broadcasting and multimedia, such as WISI. Its core competencies include extensive knowledge of all products commonly available on the market and their ideal combination into complete systems that optimally meet the client's respective needs. In doing so, EuroMedia-Service can rely on its technological competence, developed over more than a decade, an extensive product range and an acute sense of the latest and future market trends.