|Island92 on the Dutch side of St. Maarten finds value and reliability in Barix for remote broadcasts, new studio-to-transmitter link to Anguilla that will save thousands per month|
Audio over IP pioneer Barix is helping St. Maarten FM radio broadcaster Island92, owned by Caribe Broadcasting, strengthen reliability and reduce costs associated with remote broadcasting via its IP encoding and decoding solutions. Using the Barix Instreamer 100 encoder and Exstreamer 100 decoder, the growing station has discovered the benefits of IP connectivity for special events like the annual St. Maarten Yacht Club Heineken Regatta—the largest sailing event in the Caribbean—and live sports broadcasts from the United States.
Island92’s networking capabilities have gradually scaled since current Caribe Broadcasting Program Director, Music Director and afternoon drive-time host Eric Boyer joined the station 11 years ago. The station then had a limited Windows network to manage and deliver on-air programming during daytime hours, before switching to a satellite service at night. With Boyer at the helm, Island92 has since grown to support a mix of live and automated programming, with full on-air, production and back-office functions.
Remote broadcasting proved one of the more challenging functions from a cost and technology perspective, particularly when it came to the St. Maarten Yacht Club Heineken Regatta—an event that Island92 has served as the main broadcaster for over much of the last decade.
“We originally rented a Marti unit, and would broadcast from different locations around the island to gain varied perspectives on the race,” said Boyer. “The problem is the multi-day event takes place on both the French and Dutch sides of the island. Being two separate countries, it’s very difficult and expensive to cover the event over telephone lines. You’re talking a minimum of 20 cents a minute, so it cost us a lot of money over three days, which includes covering the parties, live bands and awards ceremonies, not to mention up to six hours of sailing per day.”
Barix solutions delivers high quality
The compact, simple-to-configure Barix Instreamer gives Boyer a reliable and hassle-free way to capture live audio from multiple locations, and stream it back to the studio over a WiMax wireless internet connection. The Barix Exstreamer receives and decodes the audio at the studio, and transports the live signal to the on-air studio. The Barix Audio over IP architecture delivers the program signal at high quality and with minimal latency, typically using a 64kbps bitrate in mp3. Boyer can also log into the Exstreamer at the station from any remote location to monitor the connection, as desired.
|"Barix will easily save us thousands of dollars each month using their Audio over IP architecture"|
“The Barix Instreamer is tuned to our studio IP address over a specific secure port, and it just connects and goes. The reliability has been astounding,” said Boyer. “The great thing about the Instreamer is that it is so small and self-contained: You log into the GUI, set it up, and it reboots every time and simply works. It runs on very low power at 12 volts, which keeps our costs down even more. And we have found the quality to be very worthy of broadcast radio. It’s important to remember that the connectivity and public Internet in St. Maarten is not the best in the world. We can kick the Barix connection up to a higher bitrate when desired, but this provided the best balance of broadcast quality-audio and bandwidth preservation. Once I figured out the best combination of how to make everything work – and it didn’t take long – the entire system has been rock-solid.”
Beyond the St. Maarten Yacht Club Heineken Regatta, Boyer has also used the Instreamer/Exstreamer combination to deliver live remote broadcasts from the Cincinnati Western/Southern Tennis Open, and the US Tennis Open in Flushing Meadows, New York – using the same 64kpbs connection.
Cost effective solutions
Boyer believes Barix will truly deliver its best cost savings yet based on the recent deployment of a studio-to-transmitter link (STL) between Island92 and a remote FM station in Anguilla, a Caribbean island located 11 miles north. This enables Island92 to simulcast its popular Fresh Air in the Morning with Dr. Soc program to Anguilla’s population, and will soon also provide a 24/7 STL link to the island. Boyer secured this latest Barix Instreamer/Exstreamer STL solution from LineQ, Barix’s distributor in the United States, which helped determine the most appropriate solution for their STL requirements.
“Using a fixed microwave STL connection would be prohibitively expensive, as we would need to procure three broadcast licenses in three different countries,” said Boyer, referring to the Dutch and French sides of St. Maarten as well as Anguilla. “And if we wanted a commercial program license on the French side of the island, 60 percent of that programming has to be in the French language. That’s three times the headache and cost of what any broadcaster in the United States, Europe or other major broadcast regions would do. Barix will easily save us thousands of dollars each month using their Audio over IP architecture.”