NESN taps Telecast Fiber for interconnects

New England Sports Network (NESN) is expanding its Telecast fiber arsenal to support transmission of all production signals between the network’s new 44,000-square-foot HD production center in Watertown, Mass., with Boston studio facilities at Fenway Park and TD Banknorth Garden, and an uplink facility in Needham.

NESN will use the Telecast Viper I, Viper II, and Adder modular fiber optic systems and 14 miles of leased dark fiber network from RCN to send all communications between its headquarters, sports venues, and uplink facility; perform monitoring; and move actual audio and video signals from Red Sox baseball and Boston Bruins hockey games to production facilities in Watertown.

“Our decision to embrace dark fiber as our primary transmission medium is due largely to the success of our pre-existing fiber HD-STL links. This new and expanded system gives us a great deal of flexibility, largely because we can set up our Telecast Vipers and put down any signal we want,” said Dave DesRochers, chief engineer at NESN. “The Telecast gear operates reliably in virtually any environment or temperature range.”

The Viper II systems put three uncompressed HD feeds and a combination of analog and Ethernet feeds, as well as L-Band satellite return monitoring feeds, on redundant RCN fibers. The four-channel and eight-channel optical multiplexing (CWDM) capacity enables the network to use far fewer cross-town fibers for its transmissions, with room for additional channels or signals in the future.

Post-game shows and other programming from the linked venues can be controlled from the Watertown facility, with sources coming directly into the network’s new control room. Because the HD signal remains uncompressed from capture through production and is compressed only at the satellite uplink, NESN is able to maintain clean, pristine images of the area’s most popular sports events.

NESN has also integrated a new HD-capable Viper I portable “Mussel Shell” into its operations. Before every home Red Sox game, the network’s camera crew conducts interviews and joins the fan festivities outside Fenway Park. Today these signals connect through the private fiber network all the way back to the new control room for remote production. Previously, network staff had to manage this HD feature from the much smaller and congested control room at Fenway Park.

Telecast also was able to present NESN with a solution for off-air monitoring of the network’s five channels. A specially engineered L-Band solution allows engineers in Watertown to watch all of those channels, transmitted over 18 miles of fiber.