Fox Network Group Transmission Plan for Super Bowl LI Thinks Big (and Redundant)

Complex network combines fiber and satellite systems, IP, SDI, EVPL

Super Bowl LI has led to Fox Sports’ taking over Houston, and, all week long, the happenings for various Fox entities have had reverberations across the U.S. For Keith Goldberg, VP, global operations and transmission services, Fox Networks Group, and his team, the goal is to make sure a complex network of fiber and satellite transmission systems operates to perfection.

“This setup is overwhelmingly larger in scale and scope than any Super Bowl we have done,” he says, “and it has many more areas of complexity with IP and the routing of IP with multiple remote locations. But, with the amount of circuits and bandwidth, this is larger than what we did in New York in 2014.”

Keith Goldberg says Super Bowl LI exceeds the transmission effort of Super Bowl XLVIII, held in 2014.

Keith Goldberg says Super Bowl LI exceeds the transmission effort of Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014.

Fox is making use of a fully diverse architecture at both Discovery Green Park and NRG Stadium that is providing upwards of 40 Gbps of IP connectivity and video transport using a combination of SDI and EVPL, or Ethernet Virtual Private Line, circuits.

“Level 3 is providing onsite support and paths,” adds Goldberg. “We also have a lot of HD-SDI 2-Gbps circuits and some J2K circuits.”

The move to IP has increased greatly over the years to support digital platforms and to move video. The Fox Broadcast Data Network (BDN) team, which specializes in the convergence of broadcast and digital infrastructures, is supporting the Fox Sports team with 20 Gbps of support.

“We have a team of about 12 onsite in Houston,” says Goldberg, “and the vendors are providing their own support for transmission, power, and everything else.”

True transmission-path diversity is the name of the game for an event like the Super Bowl, and Fox is using both fiber and satellite at NRG Stadium and Discovery Green, with satellite trucks onsite at the team hotels. There are eight diverse fiber paths out of NRG Stadium. Goldberg explains that “there’s never enough” with respect to backup paths. Backup control rooms will shadow the main control room at Fox facilities in Los Angeles. The Fox network facility outside Houston, in Woodlands, TX, is the ultimate backup in case of a major outage in Los Angeles.

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