Structured Cabling in a Broadcast Facility

July 2017

Being confronted with a complex nest of cabling, unmarked and undocumented, is the stuff of nightmares for broadcast engineers. Structured cabling design and installation, using standard cabling that can be configured to meet changing requirements, has been adopted in broadcast as it has in ICT to avoid these problems.

dB Broadcast is called upon to advise clients on the best approach to satisfy current and future needs.

Structured cabling has important benefits when installed in a new broadcast facility. It can be installed as part of the building contract rather than by broadcast specialists, and the same type of cable flood-wired throughout a building can carry different signal types for IT, phone, broadcast etc. This all keeps costs down.

Deploying a limited number of different standard cables routed via patching frames makes installations more flexible, and can quickly accommodate additions and developments as infrastructure requirements evolve. Thus a well-designed structured cabling system is an important tool to support enterprise agility and growth.

Designing a structured cabling system increases the Broadcast SI’s engineering time, but it saves on SI wiring time. A well managed, unified cabling system can also reduce maintenance costs.

So what are downsides of this apparent panacea? The simple principle of structured cabling is in stark contrast with the complexity of the many options and technical standards that govern its use!

Although the broadcast industry does not have published standards for cable management, it is often implemented better than in the IT world, as there are accepted practices by system integration companies such as dB Broadcast that specify documentation, cable marking at both ends, cable dressing and harnessing.

Structured wiring systems must be carefully designed as they will typically persist beyond 10 years – a long time in this era of seismic technology change. Getting the design right requires careful long-range technology trend analysis, and translation into practical requirements for the wiring system. When specifying structured wiring requirements during a recent facility build, dB Broadcast dedicated significant effort to trend analysis. This included working with both traditional broadcast vendors as well as vendors driving cutting edge datacentre design. The long-range analysis was complemented by a detailed audit of the connectivity requirements of the various subsystems within the facility.

A structured wiring system makes use of various kinds of cable. Most commonly CAT5e and CAT6 twisted pairs for shorter runs and lower bandwidth links, and fibre – both single mode and multi-mode – for longer runs and high bandwidth links. Single mode fibre can handle greater distances and can handle multiplexed signals, however it has traditionally been avoided within datacentres due to the cost of the associated optics. The development of standards such as PSM4 mean that lower cost, high bandwidth single mode optics are emerging, which is starting to make single mode infrastructure more attractive.

dB Broadcast is experiencing demand from clients for a structured cabling solution that satisfies the need for increased bandwidth. 25Gb/s works well for uncompressed live production technology and live/file based UHD workflows. Structured cabling must be carefully specified and designed to deal with this.

Where a client has commissioned flood wiring for a building, to ensure proper usage, dB is often involved in specifying and managing every patch. An essential step is the deployment of a patch management system to avoid that dreaded undocumented nest of cables that no one dares change!

Despite the advantages of the structured cabling approach, it cannot meet all broadcast cabling requirements. An SI will still need to provide local cabling.

A final point: while structured wiring can provide great flexibility to patch anything anywhere, that doesn’t mean that you should. The design must be aligned with both the network and broadcast design. This is an ongoing process which often involves translating logical design into physical patching, following a coherent scheme that utilises the structured wiring infrastructure efficiently.

Customers won’t thank anyone when they discover that many switch ports they need to access are harnessed at one end of a big row of swing frames, and the rack that their equipment is installed in is harnessed at the opposite end of the row, resulting in congested, unusable trunk channels and another swing frame meme on the Internet.

RECENT NEWS

Exhibition Schedule 2024

Exhibition Schedule 2024

It’s exhibition season again, and dB will be at several major shows, eager to meet as many visitors as possible.

At The Media Production & Technology Show at Olympia, London, our team will be on hand to discuss latest industry trends and technologies, as well as catch up on current broadcast projects. We’ll also be debuting dB FLEX, a versatile power solution designed to power Starlink data terminals in the field. This was used in our award winning project for ITV Studios teams on location from Australia to Alaska.

See us there at Stand no. E27 on 15-16 May 2024.

https://www.mediaproductionshow.com/

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Then we’re off to CABSAT at the Sheikh Saeed Halls 1, 2, 3 and Trade Centre Arena, Dubai World Trade Centre. We’ll be looking to show off the new dB FLEX solution to delegates from the Media and Satcomms industry, and we expect lots of interest in our S3 Satsio antenna tracking and positioning systems.

Catch us at Stand No- S2-F20, Shk Saeed Hall 2 on 21 – 23 May 2024.

https://cabsat.com/

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Then in September it’s all back to The Netherlands with our annual attendance at IBC in the RAI, Amsterdam. Once again we’ll be in two places at once, in Hall 1 with our focus on Satcoms showcasing S3 Satsio and dB FLEX, simultaneously also exhibiting in Hall 10 with a focus on broadcast projects and our new APIS Hive software developments.

We’ll be at Stand nos. 1.A07 and 10.A30, 13-16 September 2024.

https://show.ibc.org/%20

Andy Appleyard joins dB Broadcast Board

Andy Appleyard joins dB Broadcast Board

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Andy Appleyard as Director of Projects and key shareholder of the Company.

Andy brings over two decades of industry experience to dB, having been a respected colleague and friend of the company for more than 20 years. His appointment is a strategic move aligned with our broader objectives to diversify our activities and fortify our long-term succession plan.

Andy started his Broadcast and Media career at the BBC, and trained alongside Mike Bryan back in 2000. Progressing through the organisation, Andy played a pivotal role as a Senior Project Manager in the success of the BBC Scotland Pacific Quay project in 2004. In 2008, Andy joined the systems integrator, TSL, as a Senior Project Manager, successfully delivering projects such as Sky News Arabia, QVC Italy, and Channel 4 HD Playout.

Returning to the BBC in 2014 as a Portfolio Manager, Andy led the delivery of BBC Cardiff Central Square, the Corporation’s first venture into AVoIP (ST-2110). Following this success, as an independent consultant, he collaborated with dB Broadcast on the Warner Bros. Discovery AVoIP project for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Since 2022, Andy has been leading a dB team responsible for delivering the strategic advisory role at NRK in Norway, as well as supporting wider business opportunities. His extensive contributions and expertise make him an invaluable addition to the company.

“We are thrilled to welcome Andy to dB Broadcast, and are confident that his wealth of experience and strategic vision will play a key role in propelling the company to new heights”, said David Bird, Managing Director & Founder. “This appointment is a significant milestone in building the perfect team for our continued and long-term success.”

This appointment comes at a pivotal moment for the Broadcast and Media industry as it undergoes significant transformations by embracing new technologies and workflows. The addition of Andy to the dB team is a crucial step towards realising the company’s long-term ambitions and ensuring continued success in a dynamic and evolving industry. Pic shows Andy Appleyard (foreground)

dB Broadcast Supports Expedition and Implements Sustainability Measures

dB Broadcast Supports Expedition and Implements Sustainability Measures

dB Broadcast actively seeks to invest in sustainable technologies, and to promote sustainable business practices. This spans both our own facilities and is a core concern during the design and implementation of systems for our clients.

Over the past year we have worked with an external consultant to review our sustainability approach. This work has delivered an updated company policy, targets, measures and actions to recognise and reduce our environmental impact, and provide transparency through our engagement in the global Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). This builds upon our wider sustainability initiatives which have seen a 100kW solar PV array installed, producing around a quarter of our annual facilities’ energy consumption. Furthermore, our Data Centre utilises an ‘evaporative’ cooling system to reduce our energy use and our carbon footprint.

On top of these initiatives, we are also thrilled to announce that we are sponsoring Mark Wood on his epic Solo 100 expedition in March 2024. Solo 100 begins when Mark will head out into the Arctic for 100 days on a 2000km science-based expedition. His mission is to document climate change in real time, to inspire people to re-connect with the environment and to educate us all on the need for modern day exploration. Expedition Solo 100 is a test of human endurance like no other. No human has ever been alone in the Arctic for so long.

Mark recently wrote to dB’s Founder David Bird to say…

“Hi David, I am just a few weeks away from heading north to a small Inuit settlement along the northwest passage called Resolute Bay – home to Inuit people who are thousands of miles away from the human race in a location that is set in snow and ice. Here I will prepare and train for my 100 days solo expedition across the last remaining sea – an area half the size of Europe with a total population of 300 people and over 25,000 polar bears.
 

The reason is to collate pure ice samples for leading climate research scientists to understand possible contamination. The expedition is being filmed by myself for a major documentary we have been developing over the past six years. Each day I will communicate through a podcast from the edge of the world (flat earth believers don’t get too excited when I write edge!!!) 


This will be my toughest journey over a 20 year career in a freezer, and each day leading to this all I can think about is stepping off the small plane in the Arctic Ocean to be alone for the 100 days. I’m in fear of the journey but this will keep me sharp and focused. 


My thanks go to people who believe in me and my journey – so thank you David and all of you for allowing me to pursue my passion in the name of science. 


 Onwards…”

Each month we plan to post an update on Mark’s expedition, and we hope you will be as excited as we are to follow his courageous journey, and spread the word about his progress and achievements, giving him as much exposure and support as we possibly can.

If you’re eager to know more about Solo 100, please check the website: www.expeditionsolo100.com