THUS Carries Radio Over MPLS

GWR, using an IP/MPLS network provided by THUS, becomes the first radio broadcaster in the UK to multicast commercial audio over MPLS

April 6, 2004

3 Min Read

LONDON -- THUS plc announced today that it has provided radio broadcaster GWR Group with a national IP network based on its Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) platform. The investment sees GWR, which owns well-known stations such as Classic FM as well as more than 31 local FM stations across the country, become the first radio broadcaster in the UK to multicast commercial audio broadcasts over MPLS and the UK's most technologically advanced radio broadcaster.

MPLS multicasting means that one GWR site can send live broadcasts to a few, several, or all its sites simultaneously, enabling GWR to share broadcast content, for example celebrity interviews or major concerts, cheaply and efficiently while making maximum use of its network bandwidth.

The 31-site network forms the backbone of GWR's operation, carrying "traditional" applications such as e-mail, Internet and file transfer as well as broadcast traffic. It consolidates all traffic from three legacy networks (Data, Voice & Broadcast) to one central network, simplifying management and reducing costs. It is able to carry broadcast, voice and data traffic over the same network because MPLS allows packets of information to be transmitted in a specified order and timeframe, prioritising time-sensitive data. The network therefore prioritises transport of broadcast traffic, ensuring that the quality of broadcast transmission is maintained regardless of the volume of data on the network.

The network provides GWR with unprecedented scalability and flexibility through access to an advanced, high capacity national network with multiple points of presence. All GWR's network connections, including Internet, phone and data, can be accessed via a single connection at each site. GWR can connect new sites to the national network easily and cost efficiently (and if required on an hour-by-hour basis, disconnecting them when no longer needed to free up bandwidth). This allows its staff greater flexibility as they can broadcast from any location within the constraints of their license. It also simplifies integration of newly acquired stations.

Vincent Bourne, Infrastructure Manager, GWR commented: "This is another technology first for GWR Group, which was the first broadcaster to switch to an entirely CD-based output, the first to introduce all-digital studios to a national radio station in Classic FM, and the first to back DAB Digital Radio broadcasting. The delivery of the THUS network is the realisation of our long-held vision for the impact a modern data network can bring to the Radio business. It gives us the capability to broadcast live from any site to any site at the drop of a hat.

"The shared nature of the network means costs are driven down by the removal of the legacy Voice and Satellite networks - it's simply not possible to design a more elegant and cost effective way of delivering the services. This is the way all broadcasters should be going with their services in the future, no question. With our alliance with THUS, GWR is way ahead of the wave. The selection process for this project took the best part of a year, we chose THUS because they 'got' the vision, and were prepared to work in an extremely innovative and collaborative way with us to deliver the network we needed. We found THUS to have an excellent understanding of the media sector as well as the technology we use."

"The network we are providing to GWR is a truly innovative application of a sophisticated networking technology, and we believe, one in a long line of UK firsts for THUS." said Phil Male, Chief Operating Officer, THUS plc. "We believe that using MPLS technology puts GWR at the forefront of communications technology for the broadcast industry. MPLS delivers such compelling benefits for broadcasters that we believe GWR is a trailblazer for its sector."

THUS plc

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