As General Manager of Magnetic Media, Polish distributor for Axia, Telos, and Omnia, Piotr Kubacki has his finger on the pulse of Poland's radio scene. As such, we were keen to hear from Piotr recently regarding the implementation of Axia networks and other Telos Alliance gear at broadcast facilities across Poland.
Agora Radio Group was the first Axia user in Poland, with their first Axia studio built in late 2007. Over time, Agora slowly built their entire nationwide infrastructure on Axia, including studios in cities across Poland. Major studios are now connected via Zephyr iPorts, providing multiple, independent audio channels in both directions.
Agora is fully vested in Axia, investing every year in Axia hardware to further expand their network across the country. Agora Radio’s Chief Technical Manager, Przemyslaw Pasinski lauds Axia saying, "We have built our network from the ground up, from the central radio station to our local studios and stations. Thanks to the Telos Zephyr iPort, which we use to link directly with the Axia environment, we have established a 24/7 link for our News radio – ‘TOK FM’ – from Warsaw to our local branches at Poznan, Silesia and Gdansk. Due to high capacity of our WAN links in these locations, we can send an audio stream at 320 kbps down to the central station, with a low-delay coded stream back up to the local sites."
At Trójmiasto in the north of Poland (Gdansk/Gdynia/Sopot region), Agora had to abandon their legacy retransmission service due to high radio frequency distortion encountered there. They replaced it with a fiber link and iPorts, where it is now used as a dual purpose device – both as an STL source to the transmitter in nearby Gdynia for Zlote Przeboje (Golden Hits), and also to send audio to TOK-FM in Warsaw.
Because of Zephyr iPort’s flexibility, Agora also uses it for occasional links between local studios. During the EURO 2012 football (soccer) competition, they established a connection between Gdansk and Poznan for Irish radio correspondents working there. The Irish football team played two matches in Poznan and one in Gdansk, and while some of their fans remained in Poznan, they had a chance to hear their favorite Irish station transmitted locally through a special low-power transmitter there, with iPort providing the feed.
In 2013, Agora started using a pair of Z/IP One codecs for their summer events programming and found them to connect perfectly over Polish GSM networks. Earlier this year, Agora also used the Z/IP One to broadcast results of local elections across the country.
Axia is making headway at other facilities across Poland as well. Radio Cracow, a public station, serves the mid-southern region of the country with six FM transmitters and internet program diffusion (streaming). A major central studio at Cracow was rebuilt earlier this year with xNodes, Studer consoles with Livewire interfaces, and Riedel intercom – a complex configuration. Magnetic Media was the co-supplier for this job.
Radio Cracow has two satellite studios in nearby cities where they create local audio beds. These complex, combined transmission feeds include the mixing of background sound sent from the main station with speech from the local studios. Sometimes they split programming to three completely independent audio content paths; other times they feed all six transmitters from one local studio. The programming scheme changes dynamically, with multiple changes a day.
Hardware setup consists of one Zephyr iPort at the central station with two remote Z/IP Ones at the satellite studios. Primarily they use public internet, and have reasonably good transmission, however when the public internet gets high traffic, the connection is not stable enough, and annoying drops occur. Cracow has to move to an internet service with higher quality of service over the public internet, and since then audio flows smoothly between the Z/IP Ones at the local studios and an iPort at the central station, where they are fully fitted with Axia.
Cracow also uses a satellite van with a Z/IP One, sending audio to a separate Z/IP One at the central control, however Polish internet coverage does not allow for the Z/IP One to iPort connection due to iPort-specific buffering capabilities. Changing the transmission chain to Z/IP One units at both ends has provided a solution, though, allowing Radio Cracow engineers to connect the Z/IP One directly to the IP address of their central station codec.
The Z/IP One and Zephyr iPort have offered Radio Cracow the perfect integration with their new Axia infrastructure. Since they do not perform any signal conversion except the coding from remote locations, this offers easy source management at each end and simple administration. These advanced features allow Radio Cracow to leverage higher quality public information services.