Quadcopters? We just can’t stop talking about them! So, there’s that. And Joe Talbot joins us from the high desert in Nevada. With more and more broadcasters moving away from POTS and ISDN tech, SIP/VoIP is bringing better-sounding phone calls into hundreds of radio and TV stations. How do you get SIP into your facility? Joe Talbot explains.
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Kirk: This Week in Radio Tech Episode 209 is brought to you by the Telos VX multi-studio, multi-line talk show system. VX is the first broadcast phone system natively supporting VoIP and SIP. Per- caller audio processing by Omnia brings out the detail in every caller, and Telos VSet controllers offer error-free caller handling, call after call. Meet the Telos VX talk show system at telos-systems.com.
Hey, Joe Talbot is here and he joins Chris Tobin and me for a tech update on VoIP/SIP for broadcasters, and we're dishing on drones.
Hey, welcome into This Week in Radio Tech. I'm Kirk Harnack, your host, and this is the show where we talk about radio technology. I know I say that every week, but it's what we do. We talk about everything from the microphone to light bulb at the top of the tower and all the stuff in between. We've got a good today because we've got one of our usual co-hosts is with us, Chris Tobin, the best-dressed engineer in New York City or anywhere.
Hey, Chris, welcome in. How are you doing?
Chris: Hey, I'm doing well. Just recovering, as Joe mentioned earlier, from my NAB travels and the five days straight of standing up and walking around. It takes about three or four days for the muscles to relax and feel like you're back to normal, but other than that, things are good. A lot of great technologies out there this year.
Kirk: I know you saw a bunch of them. We did a quick show together from the NAB floor a couple of Thursdays ago, but we could only hit so much, so we're going to talk about more from what we saw at NAB.
Also with us though is my friend, and colleague, and your technology friend, too, Joe Talbot from Pahrump, Nevada.
Hey, Joe, welcome in.
Joe: That's right, thanks. It's good to be here. It's beautiful out today here.
Kirk: I've been to your home there in Pahrump. You bought a fixer-upper and it looks like you are fixing it up.
Joe: Yeah, I've kind of hidden some of the things that. Oh, speaking of that, I've got to turn the radio down here. Art Bell was just on the Ham radio. He's a neighbor.
But I'm working on my studio. I need to make it look at least as good as yours, which I probably won't be able to accomplish, but it's coming together, and I'll hopefully be doing future things like this from the studio, so I won't need the headset.
Kirk: Just remember, all you're seeing of my studio is what the camera allows.
Joe: You've got to show what the rest of it looks like sometime.
Kirk: Well, it's not far that way to the mess, and it's not far that way to the mess off-screen.
Joe: You know all those TV magic tricks, I'm not hip to that yet.
Kirk: It's so amazing when you walk into a TV studio. Some of them are really clean, but others can be pretty junkie here and there, but what's on camera, buddy, that looks good.
So as I was starting to preface the show, this is the show where we talk about technology and one of those technologies we'll be hitting on a lot today is this "C" change in telephony, in telephone technology, a lot of good things and also some things to worry about, especially with this net neutrality story that's been going around the web and the FCC's decisions there. So that's got Joe concerned and plenty of other folks, too, maybe for a very good cause, maybe not. Maybe it'll all work out, but usually things do work out, but they take time doing it and it's an uncomfortable bumpy ride while they do.
Our show today is, again, brought to you me the Telos VM multi- studio, multi-phone line phone system. Of course it works with SIP and it also works with other telephone technologies if you use a gateway to change those things over to SIP. We'll be talking about the VX in just a few minutes.
All right, let's hit on a few things that we saw at NAB. Chris, I was in the Telos booth most of the time, you got to roam around a bunch. During our show that we did from NAB I don't know if you got to talk about some of the things that you saw. Can you enlighten us a bit on things that we're interesting to you?
Chris: Well, let's see, a couple things. The first thing that comes to mind was the number of unmanned UAV type flying drones that are now available for broadcasters to use. We spoke to one of the manufacturers on the show at NAB and talked about how to use a multi-propeller helicopter device with at GoPro camera and inspect your tower and STL dishes, and things above where you want to climb or go to.
When you walking through that NAB convention hall and you see these huge nets that remind your, of say, a circus and a trapeze. You say to yourself, "Wow, this is something that I don't usually see at NAB." All of a sudden these little white things are flying all around with objects hanging from them, and you're like, "Oh, I get it." It was an eye-opening experience. It was something that just opens your imagination and you say, "Wow, how far have we come?" They're all wireless, it was video/audio, it was pretty cool. That was the first thing that came to mind.
Then there was walking around, again, this is probably the third year in a row that I've seen so many different ways you can mount a camera. Camera mounts were just everywhere. I don't know if you noticed that when you were walking around. It was the wildest thing.
Kirk: Okay, so mount them to body parts, to sports devices.
Chris: Everything, yeah. It was like three dozen manufacturers in one area that can mount a camera in the strangest ways imaginable.
Then there were two companies that are known for their video products for video encoding or handling conversion from SDI to HDMI, things of that sort. They've now introduced cameras; they have 4K cameras now. So companies that never did any camera at all now has a camera that's part of their portfolio of products.
Again, the technology is shifting, as we were talking about telephony and the things that are changing. Would you think ten years ago, standing at NAB, that you would see a company who never built a camera, never known for cameras suddenly introducing a 4K camera, plus video recording and other enhancements that you can do with it? That was the guys at AJA.
Kirk: Okay. Who's the other company that's making so many little video boxes now? Black Box, no Black Magic.
Chris: Yeah, Black Magic Designs is probably the proper name.
Kirk: That's it. So they're coming out with a camera?
Chris: Yeah. I just think it's pretty cool. It's similar to what Axia has done over the years from the inception to where it is today and how it's evolved and how things have changed in that realm. Now you look at the video world and you're seeing a similar change or evolution in product design workflows enhancements. It's pretty cool.
Kirk: Actually, this is a pretty good point that's worth talking about for a minute. That is that this happens in other areas of technology, too, not just the AJA's of the world or Black Magic Designs or Axia. You look at traditional console companies like SAS. Well they started out making routers and then they made consoles that work with the routers, and now they have some IP technology with their console system as well. Then there's a company like Wheatstone which started out making analog consoles, and then they moved to AES digital consoles, and now they're into making IP based consoles as well. Logitech made some digital consoles and then has moved into IP.
But Axia never made analog consoles and never made digital consoles that weren't IP. They just jumped right in to IP. I don't say that to wave Axia's flag, it's like the phone companies. Some phone companies that started out doing landlines and ISDN are taking forever, some of them, to get into IP. Yet other phone companies who never were a phone company before have jumped right into IP.Joe Talbot, tell us about that. Is my observation correct?
Joe: It is and it's also interesting about how it varies around the world. I was having a conversation the other say with some people in Japan about how long ISDN is going to be around over there. They seem to feel that it's going to be around for another ten years or so. I know that with my experience in Japan they tend to lag in certain kinds of technologies. It's not really clear why it is, but they seem to do that. I predict that we're going to have POTS and ISDN over there for quite some time to come, yet.
As far as in the U.S. it's the Wild, Wild West right now, it's settling down a little bit. The providers that do IP telephony have actually kind of gone from experimental and hobbyist to ready for prime time. The biggest challenge you have is figuring out the best kind of circuit to bring in or how to get it in over the internet if that's appropriate for you. That's a choice you have to make, I'm always a little concerned about bringing it in over the internet.
Kirk: That's something that we'll talk about during the show. I know you have some real concerns there. We'll chat about that.
I'm sorry, back to Chris. You were talking about how these companies that didn't do cameras are all of a sudden, Bam! They're either with or even ahead of the traditional camera companies, the Ikegama's or the Panasonic's, or the JVC's, or the Sony's. Is that what you observed?
Chris: Yeah, that's exactly it. Any of us who have done video work remember in the heyday the Sony cameras and HL-79 Ikegami's, right? Those were the mainstays, that was the staple, the de facto camera that you would use for ENG work and even the video post-production stuff, field production. Nowadays it doesn't matter. You can go with a brand name if you want, but now it's like, "Do I see the video? How do I get it? Where can I put it? Boom, off I go."
As you pointed out, Axia never made consoles before, now all of a sudden Telos is now making consoles. Same thing here with these new cameras, I was at a couple of booths with these 4K and 8K video monitors and I was like, "Okay, who are you guys? Where have you come from?" They never made a monitor before in their life; they were a semiconductor company just making screens, LCD devices for industrial use, not even broadcast.
So this year was a great year to be at NAB, I have to say. If you walked around with an open mind you got to see a lot of stuff and it gets you thinking. As we'll talk about with telephony, the IP world is just exploding with opportunities if you're really willing to learn how to apply it.
Kirk: I want to go back to these drones for a minute. So many engineers love these drones. I've got one of the AR Parrots here and I've messed up one of the motors so I've got to replace it. I've got the replacement I just haven't done it yet. They have the cameras built in. But the DJI drone that one's becoming very popular. We had a gentleman-I'm sorry I don't remember his name- -on the show two weeks ago to about it, unfortunately he wasn't able to bring a working model along with him. They had them just down the hall.
I've got a friend in the broadcast business, Cam Cornelius, he works with the Dave Ramsey Organization. He's got a DGI and putting a Go Pro on it, then doing some great photography all around the Dave Ramsey campus and then on other projects that they're working on, various stadium appearances and things like that.
How do we see radio stations, broadcasters, and broadcast engineers not only getting fun out these things, but actually using them for work? Of course one idea that comes to mind is some kind of tower inspections, maybe they're useful for that. But what crosses your mind for these drones? How can we use them? How can we justify buying one?
Chris: Oh, it's going to be tough, because in some states flying these things is becoming, how would you say it, not against the law but against local ordinances. But for broadcast engineers to justify using it--I'm thinking of my personal experiences over the years--I could have easily used it at a couple of transmitter sites where we had our 500 or 600 foot towers and from time to time we had issues with stuff on the tower. That would have been very handy, but I don't know if I could have justified the cost of keeping an unmanned aerial vehicle in the transmitter room when I'm not doing tower inspections.
I mean, if you're an AM site and you have multiple antennas-- Say, when I worked with an AM station here the in the New York City area our tower sites are in the Meadow Lands, a swamp land, so basically if you didn't have hip waders you couldn't get to the other towers outside of the catwalks. A UAV like that or a drone would've been handy to take a look at the property, fly around the tower bases to see what's going on, is the ground system radial still in place, things of that sort. That come in handy, but again, it's a question of, can you justify the cost for the occasional quarterly checks that you would be doing? Or do you come up with a new maintenance program and, "We do it every month."
Kirk: You mentioned something about legalities here. There is a pretty recent article, it's from December of 2013, on the website GigaOm. The article is entitled, "So you want to fly drones? Here's what the law says." Over a huge amount of the U.S. it's okay to do this. I'll tell you what, I'll put a link to this in our show notes today and you can have a look or you can just Google GigaOm and Drones, and you'll find that. They've got some pretty good charts and maps here, so being a pilot it looks like they're describing the different classes of airspace fairly correctly. That will be interesting as to where you can and can't fly it. The FAA is going to be coming out with some new rules on that, it they haven't already there will be some new rules.
I would think that flying one to go have a look at antenna can save you a trip up the tower, maybe. Of course, if you break something you're probably just going to break the drone. One of these little drones is, I guess, not likely to hurt an antenna if you actually fly it into an antenna, right?
Kirk: Not likely to tear that up unless it's a wimpy little antenna.
Chris: I think the UAV drone approach is definitely pretty cool and different. I was just having a conversation yesterday with a tower rigger. I was working at a tower site yesterday where they were doing some microwave IP work and required climbing a tower. We were talking about drones and he was curious, because he was at the NAB also. He was thinking, "Wow, this is pretty cool, but it's a device a mechanism that you're flying in the air, you're in airspace that's shared with other things like helicopters."
Then he goes, "What about the safety? Things go up in the air; they always want to come back down at some point." I was like, "Well, yeah that's one of them." I said, "What if it gets too far out range?" He said, "If it gets too far out of range they now they have this GPS method where it knows to come back home if it losses communications with the remote control."
I said, "Well, that's all well and good, but these links that control them remotely are not encrypted, so a man in the middle attack could actually take place, so you could lose communication. It suddenly decides it's going to try to go home and then you re-intercept it with your signal and now take control of this device, think about that?"
Joe: It will be interesting to see if news people try to take advantage of this in some way that may or may not be appropriate.
Kirk: I think they already have. Yeah, one guy was asked by police to get the drone out the sky, it was perhaps interfering with their work. I get that if it was interfering. There was a guy, he didn't work directly for a news organization, but he went out and got footage of accidents and then sold it back to news organizations.
Joe: A stringer, yeah.
Kirk: Yeah, a stringer. They'll probably have some kind of certification for this and licensing in the future, "Are you a licensed drone flyer? Do you have insurance?" Insurance might be the big thing. It might be that if you want to do this as anything more than a hobbyist then maybe you're going to have to be licensed and have an umbrella insurance policy where if you break something you're covered, you're bonded.
Chris: Well let's not forget, if you happen to be somebody who's lucky enough to sit behind a stick of an RQ-4B you're usually a licensed pilot, you've got years of experience and you have some airtime and that's why you're able to do it. Oh yeah, the RQ-4B is a Global Hawk flying UAV used by the military, so let's think about this. If you're going to be flying something outside of the hobbyist realm and typically when you're doing a hobby, say with helicopters and stuff of this type, you do it in a park or you do it in a controlled environment. Once you leave that controlled environment what happens? That's my fear.
I'd love to use it a transmitter site for doing tests and stuff, renting it or doing it that way. But then, as you point out, you have insurance. Are you qualified to fly it? It's like a commercial driver's license, you have a CDL to drive a truck or you don't. You don't get on the road without it. So these drones may have to follow that similar line of thinking. It's going to be interesting to watch what unfolds over the next year or two.
Kirk: Hey, Joe, in Pahrump I'm guessing you don't have any restrictions there, except you're not too far from Area 51.
Joe: Interestingly enough on the Ham radio here, Art Bell had one of these things and a number of his friends do and I hear the daily trials and tribulations, and successes that they've had. They're having a great deal of fun with them. It's pretty much the Wild Wild West here, so we see a lot of that kind of activity.
Kirk: On the radio, are you hearing any brand names or what's working well for people?
Joe: I have and I regret that I don't remember what they were. I'll have to find out. After seeing some of that stuff at the show I'm kind of intrigued as well.
Kirk: I don't know, it seems like most engineers I know, we all love remote control. We all love pushing a button in place and having something happen somewhere else. It's just in-built and to do that with at flying machine and then that has a TV camera in it. I mean, back in the '90s I was dreaming of, "Hey, why can't we put a little TV lipstick camera on an RC airplane and then wear some goggles that project that into our eyes and fly that way? I realize there's a lag there and there's reasons why it doesn't work so well, and you can't turn your head left and right very well so your peripheral vision is kind of a problem. But this is interesting to me and I know it's interesting to a lot of other engineers as well.
Oh, by the way, our guest who's name I forgot--thanks to Dave Sarkies--his name is Willis Chung. He was our guest from DJI. DJI seems to have the upper hand on this at the moment. AR Parrot started things, at least in the public realm, a few years ago with the hobbyist type stuff.
All right, do we want to move on to something else? Have we beat the drones to death yet?
Anything else the you, Chris, or Joe noticed at the show? Do you guys want to jump in with anything you saw that's worth talking about?
Joe: I just did the usual vendor Thursday afternoon, you've only got a few minutes to see how much you can see in half an hour kind of thing. Things were much the same, you know, Gates Air, the name changes and the organizational changes and things like that, but as far as a lot of new products, aside from the drones, I didn't see a whole lot. But it may be because of the limited about of time I had.
Chris: I was actually walking around and I came across a company called FreeAxez. If you're in the process of building studios or say small home studio control rooms and stuff and you need a raised floor--Now, I mentioned the word "raised floor" and all of a sudden people are thinking six inches deep and computer raised, the whole bit--no, this is not the case, this is what caught my attention. It's actually two sizes, one and a half inches in height and then two and three-quarters inches in height. You can do a complete raised floor approach. It's made of steel, it's pretty cool. FreeAxez, that's the best way to but it. You can go to their website.
The reason I point this out is when I working at a radio station group here in New York City I was part of the team working with the EAS and the OEM office in New York City and we were in the brand new OEM center. I noticed the raised floor they were using was very unique. This is four, five years ago I noticed it, I'm talking to the guys at this booth and I'm asking, "Where is it used?" And he's, "By the way, you're from New York? We've done a lot of stuff in New York City government." I'm like, "What?" They showed pictures of the room that I used to sit in with Tom Ray. I was like, "Oh my goodness, this is a great system. I can't believe how well it works."
It was pretty cool. It was like one of the first times ever I've seen a raised floor approach that wasn't a traditional six inches, twelve inches tall pedestals, concrete squares, they whole nine yards, if you've ever worked on raised floors and the annoyance it can be. It was a really cool system to check out. That was one of the things I came across that just stood out, out of the blue.
Kirk: So it's just enough room to run modern day cabling, right?
Chris: That's what it's meant for, modern day cabling, most audio, Cat- 5, you could probably get a couple of triax cables in there, but I don't think you'd want to.
I was talking to the guys and they do a lot of flooring systems for commercial and corporate environments as well as broadcast. What they've discovered is a lot of folks don't have the need for a deep floor anymore, because everything's only Cat-5 or Cat- 5 equivalent. That's where this system plays its strengths.
I forget, it doesn't adhere to the floor. You don't have to glue it in or do a .22 shot nail into the concrete. You can actually install it and then take it out if you want, so it's a pretty system.
While I was at the booth there were two major television network engineering directors there talking and were very interested and found a use for this particular approach. So I was like, "Okay, if these guys are interested and actually are talking there must be something to this." So it was pretty cool.
Kirk: I haven't worked hardly any place that had raised floor. A lot of TV stations do and still do. A lot of that room that they needed was for delay lines. They needed all the cameras to have the same length of cable, so they had to take the length of the line for the longest camera, give them all that length of line, and coil all the rest of it up under the floor. But other than that, did raised floors start in computer rooms or in the TV stations, where was it? Why not use the methods that radio stations tend to use and that is, go through the ceiling and down the walls? Is it really that much easier with a raised floor?
Chris: Actually, it is easier with a raised floor. Two or three of the radio stations I've worked at we've had raised floors. Then similarly, two or three of the radio stations where I worked at did not have it and we did a cable tray approach. I can tell you, the cable tray approach, though it was easier to install, cheaper in the short term, it was a bear to deal with when it came time to run cable between studios, hauling out a ladder, running it through the cable tray, then you run into this problem. One place I worked at the cable trays were so full they no longer structurally were safe and we had to stick stanchions underneath them.
Raised floors came into being back in the days of early TV to move cable around. They used to cut into the concrete and make little cable runs. Over time datacenters and computer rooms started using raised floors because they also used raised floors to shuffle the cool air. They forced the air from the bottom up through the racks and out the top to create a convection cooling, so that's another way raised floors have been put to use.
But this particular raised floor approach or Axez flooring system is designed for the modern day. If you're doing and Axia install and you have all Cat-5 cable with a couple utility outlets--They have utility outlet capability too, so you can put power plugs in this floor--you've got yourself a nice little system that only sits two and three-quarter inches off the floor. It gives you what you need. You can still pop the tile, run the cables in, pop it back in and go.
Kirk: Yeah, it makes short guys like me look taller, too. It's like elevator shoes for everything.
Chris: That too, yeah. It was a really cool system because it didn't require securing it to the floor, so you can literally take it out if you're done, so if you're building a temporary broadcast setup, maybe of a two- or three-month period for a show--
Joe: I said, as they all seem to be now.
Joe: Ouch, sorry.
Chris: No, no let's see how the truth hurts. But no, you've got a great little system. I've worked on many raised floors that just once they're in, that's it, they don't come out.
Kirk: Sure, yeah. Hey, there's a product that we ran across this week that I thought we'd point out. I think Andrew maybe has picture of their web page. It's from Fluke Networks. I've always known Fluke to be making fairly expensive stuff. They've been making cable testing and things to measure near end crosstalk and far end crosstalk, but now they have a new little product call the Link Sprinter.
This would be pretty cool to have if you've got to go do troubleshooting. What it does is you plug a Cat-5 cable into it, the Cat-5 cable that would supposedly be connected to you Ethernet switch or your router, and you push a button and it does tests to make sure if there is P.O.E. on the line, so would that circuit properly support plugging a VoIP phone into it? It checks the physical link, are any wires crossed? Is the link okay? It checks for the presence of a DHCP server and sees if you can get a DHCP address. It then checks for the veracity of the gateway, is the gateway actually there that the DHCP server said was there? Then, can you reach the Internet?
So on the one hand, I guess for techs who normally carry a laptop with them or some other device that they can do a lot more extensive tests, this may not be useful. But if you want to do something quick, if you want to have an entry-level technician be able to run over to somebody's office suite, or just go here or there, and just see, "Hey, is this thing seeing the Internet?" This is a quick test. It's $200. They have a $300 model that has a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, then you can connect it to your smart phone or your tablet and run a little app on that and it'll tell you a lot more than it does with the unit itself.
Then unit itself, as you can see in the picture there. Andrew, if you could scroll down a bit and show that again. The unit itself just gives you go/no go indications for P.O.E., link, DHCP, gateway, and Internet. They flash different colors so you can tell something about them, but they don't tell you all about them.
Also, when you use this thing you set up an account with Fluke and after you've used it somewhere it sends a report to the Cloud, to your account. So you can log in then or latter and see what your results were on particular test that you did. So it's kind of interesting. It's pretty cheap; you can carry it in your pocket.
So often we need to go somewhere and check out, "Hey, is this thing working or not?" If you don't want to pull out the laptop and boot it up and plug this in, it does a whole bunch of tests just on its own. Also, you can work on it remotely, on the little tester, and you can give a fixed IP address, for example, if DHCP doesn't work then you can give it a fixed IP address, hopefully it'll be appropriate for that network.
Joe, Chris, what do you think about this thing? I'm not going to buy one. I don't think I need one, but do you see this thing being useful?
Joe: I think it would be kind of cool. I'll bet they sell them at Graybar.
Kirk: Yeah. Chris, if you were deploying this to your radio station and to engineers at a station, what would you hope for them to get out it?
Chris: We I currently use the Fluke IQ cable qualification unit. This guy's a little more advanced than the Sprint Link, but I would definitely use that for where I used to work and a couple of other places, a group of engineers, we have a multiple facility. I would definitely use that.
What I'd expect would be guys would be able to get a phone call from one of the end users in the facility saying, "Hey, I'm having an issue with my laptop, or my computer. I don't know what's going on." Maybe it's an audio codec that's plugged in, or a video codec plugged into a LAN. That's a great way to plug in, go take a look and see and go, "Hey, wait a minute, you're on VLAN 2 and you should be getting IP address X and you're not, you're getting IP address Y. Wait a minute, how did the VLAN change in this jack?" Then right away you'll know what's going on.
It's a quick diagnostic tool. I think it's a great little guy. It definitely makes sense. It's definitely a quick diagnostic tool for somebody who doesn't want to have to carry around--as I'll show you, for those of you that can see the video--the IQ tester for the qualification, which is about the size of, I'm not sure what this would be the size of anymore these days.
Kirk: A big multi-meter.
Chris: A big multi-meter, yeah like a Fluke 76. But at a facility that we have a lot of people at that makes sense.
Kirk: Yeah, the IQ, the box that you just held up, does that do Internet tests or does it simply make lots of tests on cable?
Chris: This is pretty much for cable testing and also lets you know if there's a switched connection and a few other things, not for Internet testing and that kind of stuff. But again, it depends on how you manage your network, what type of work you do as an administrator. A lot of times this guy's all you'll need or you'll have a couple of other tools that Fluke makes. Sometimes a laptop works just as well. But if you're managing a facility with lots of activity that little guy, the Sprint Link, that makes sense. Because you already know what your network should be doing. You already know what's going on in most parts of your facility if you're a LAN administrator, so you know already what you should be expecting. This tells you quickly what's going on, what you can diagnose and say, "Whoa!"
As I mentioned, if you're doing VoIP systems you're going to have a VLAN most likely, so you're VoIP ins on one VLAN, your office traffic is on another, and maybe broadcast revenue traffic on a third. So right away if you plug this in it tells you what's going on. It gets you DHCP or it doesn't, or whatever you have you'll know. That's handy. I can't tell you how many times I've worked in a facility where we had calls for issues with the IP connections and all of a sudden we discover, "Oh, somebody made a change on the switch and didn't tell anyone and that's how we found out the hard way." So I think it'd be pretty cool.
Joe would probably know best with VoIP deployment and what you run into.
Joe: Exactly. The VoIP is a little more specialized, but I could see this just to get your basic stuff going quickly and know whether something requires further attention.
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. I'm not saying this is a deep delving into, you're absolutely right, but it gives you that first cursory level look on, "Hey, oh I know what's going on." And you can make the call and go, "Guys, here's what the issue is." And you move on to the next level.
Kirk: Hey, speaking of tests--one thing that's been a popular subject between me and Joe , and our tech support guys at Telos and a lot of our customers is once you know your Internet is working, is it going to work well enough to do a voice over IP phone call and how many of them? Could you use it for other IP Audio like a Telos Z/IP One or other IP audio codecs?
Joe a long time ago turned me on to the plethora of VoIP testing websites that will perform a test from your laptop or from your computer, from the connection that you have right then to a server, which we assume had pretty good bandwidth, and will test things like chitter, and packet loss, and could test bandwidth and roundtrip time, and variation in round trip time.
Joe, tell us about these VoIP speed tests and what they're good for and what you can determine from them.
Joe: Sure. My favorite one is the Visualware one that's been around for quite a while. You probably won't remember the name, but if you Google VoIP jitter test, it'll come up. It's usually in the first few results. That'll tell you, at that time, basically how good the thing is, how good the circuit is. I say "at that time," because ever since Netflix that time becomes very important.
For example, my usual download speed here is about 8 megabits down, but what happens is at 3:00 p.m. Netflix rears its ugly head and all of a sudden that drops down to 1 to 2 and the jitter goes way up along with it. So you probably want to be cautious. If you're doing a remote don't go somewhere and do a quick check at 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday and expect it to be the same way a little later on if it's the public Internet. That's improved a lot in a lot of areas, but I still run into variation, like here, that just really get in the way sometimes.
But the Visualware tool is my favorite one, because it has a lot of VoIP-specific things. You can tell it what codec you're going to use and it'll effectively tell you how many calls you could expect to be able to deliver on that circuit. That's a useful thing and the quality level, and things like that. Yeah, just Google VoIP jitter test and it'll pop Visualware, it's the one you want.
[silence 00:34:25 to 00:34:35]
Chris: I guess we lost audio from Kirk.
Joe: I lost audio from Kirk.
Chris: Well, how about that?
Kirk: How about that?
Chris: Oh, you're back.
Kirk: Yes, sorry, cockpit error. So most of these speed tests, a lot of them use the same engine, that code apparently is available.
Joe: You can license it I think, yeah.
Kirk: But my point was it requires Java. For a lot of folks either Java is a pain to run in your browser or if you do like I do, I run Chrome browser on a Mac and Java's not available for that, it just doesn't work. Now, there may be some hack or some very old version, but anything modern, no, there's no Java available for Chrome on a Mac, so I have to run some other browser to get Java to work. So my point is this, I wrote a paper, an app note actually, about a year ago--I'll provide a link to it in the show notes--that shows which of these VoIP testing apps require Java. They test for more stuff than the non-Java ones, but then there's some non-Java ones that use Java script, HTML5, and I've got a list of a few of those as well. So if you don't want to run Java you can still do some basic tests. I just wanted to let people know that.
Kirk: Hey, we're going to take a break here for and add and for our sponsor, Telos. After that, Joe, I want us to talk about what you've been finding lately in the world of voice of IP, SIP providers, and the legacy, the big iron providers, and PBXs. It's been a year or so since we've talked much about that. In that year more than a hundred radio stations have installed Telos voice equipment and there are other brands as well. The folks a Comrex have an IP based phone system available now, too. JK Audio's come out with a little two-line box to do SIP on it, so I want to get an update from you on that.
Chris, you're an IP solutionist, as you call yourself. I'm sure you've come across some interesting things as well to contribute.
But for a moment we're going to talk about our sponsor. Our show is brought by our friends at Telos and the VX phone system. Joe's the right guy to know about this thing, too. The VX is the multi-studio, multiline, and by the way, multi-codec phone system. Of course, it does G.711, that's the codec that everybody uses when you make a phone, but it also does G.722. I kind of get ahead of myself, though, let me back up and explain.
If you've got a multi-studio radio station--and typically about three studios is the breakeven point, versus individual phone systems for each room--the VX is an overall phone system for all your studios. You can use it with an Axia Livewire system or you can use it in non-Axia environment it doesn't matter. If you us it with an Axia environment you don't need to buy input/output nodes as well, but if you use it in a non-Axia environment--Let's say you've already got multi-studios of Wheatstone or SAS, or various consoles--then you just buy a couple of Axia's audio input/output nodes and a GPIO node and you've got full access to all of the audio in and out of the VX system.
Inside the VX it handles hundreds of phone number definitions. It'll handle about simultaneous phone calls. Now, those are calls that are actually on the air, plenty more can be on hold. So it works for all your studios. Let's say you have six on-air studios and six more production groups, no problem, you are well within the capabilities of the VX system. You can bring POT lines in through a gateway and convert them to SIP. You can bring ISDN lines in through a gateway and convert them to SIP for the VX. You can bring SIP directly in from you PBX or from an outside SIP provider, whether it's a nationwide provider or a local provider of SIP, you can bring it in that way.
You can also integrate the VX system with an asterisk phone system to give it more functionality. If you want to be able to create lots of mail boxes for contests and such. If you want to be able to have to have your reporters have a smart phone that registers to an asterisk server, that you can have them call into your on-air studios using G.722, a higher quality phone codec and get them on the air with seven kilohertz of quality, so do your own remote broadcast with an ordinary smart phone and a G.722 app.
So there's lots of possibilities. Whether you want to start small and grow, start small and stay small, or if you need to replace a huge system for a bunch of studios, or a bunch of systems more likely, share phone lines across studios and all that kind of thing, the Telos VX is really a great way to go. So you want to go to the web and check it out.
Joe, I'm sure I've missed a billion things, but any other high points that we ought to point out about the Telos VX?
Joe: Well, it always comes down to how it sounds, that's my favorite. Right before the show, actually partially during the show, a friend of mine up at a station in San Francisco put a system in. I didn't have to give him a whole lot of information, but he basically put the whole thing in, asked me a few questions, and he was just blown away by the audio. That's pretty much what I hear from everybody else. Between the audio processing, the dynamic EQ it just sounds smooth and live, and up front. In some cases it doesn't even sound like a phone call, it'll surprise you.
Kirk: If you're caller is calling in from a phone that's inherently digital, like a cell phone or a wired VoIP phone, it's possible that the codec that's in their phone, the same ones and zeroes produced by that codec are the same ones and zeroes that show up inside the VX to get converted into audio. It's possible that it doesn't get trans-coded. Now, sometimes it does, you might cross phone companies. So you're right, the audio quality can be--I mean, considering it's G.711 for most calls--can be pretty stellar, but if it's G.722 we can handle that as well, which is also pretty amazing sounding.
Joe: I've heard a lot of PBX customers where they've implemented G.722 and the customers are almost kind of disconcerted, it doesn't sound like a phone call and it kind of throws them a little bit when it first comes in, but they like it after that.
Kirk: Remember back in the '80s when we went from--
Joe: Pin drop.
Kirk: Well, we went from the radio networks, the nationwide news networks, ABC, NBC, NPR being distributed by AT&T long lines. We went from that to satellite distribution using SCPC analog, but it was such a difference. I remember, we were playing the Winter Olympics from Sarajevo, Yugoslavia on an AM station. We were playing the hockey game and we had people saying they didn't believe we were playing the Olympics, we must have been recreating it somewhere, because it sounded so clear.
Well, that difference in clarity is--I'm not going to say that's exactly what you get--but you do get a big bump in quality when you get off of analog phone lines and into SIP. By the way, SIP is absolutely your key to moving from today's codecs, G.711 and others that are voice quality, into codecs that are coming on now and will in the future that eventually we're going to easily have 20-kilohertz telephone calls. Or you as a broadcaster will be able to take that in from your reporters and other people on your staff, and from special callers, you'll be able to outfit them with an app and call into your phone system. If you're on ISDN, PRI or BRI, or POTS you'll never get that, you'll only get that if you use SIP.
So the possibilities are just amazing for what's coming up, so you can do it now and be--I hate to use the word "future proofed"--but you can be ready for all the codecs that come along down the pike in the future.
Accurate enough, Joe?
Joe: That was good, Kirk.
Kirk: Okay. All right, so let's move into this world of SIP. Joe is available today to chat with us.
Since the last time we talked, Joe, lots more broadcasters around the world have put in VoIP SIP phone systems, so you've gained more experience in that. Not that you were lacking before, but maybe you can tell us a bit about why broadcasters are moving? Why are engineers interested in this technology? And maybe, what's holding them back from moving to this technology?
Joe: Well, a lot of times the driver for making a system change in the studio has been the phone system at the facility changing, like at a television station, particularly, they'll put in a new PBX and anything that is current is going to be SIP. When that happens they kind of look and say, "Oh, we've had this equipment for a long time, maybe we could do it better." They call us up and we say, "Yeah, you could indeed do it better."
It's kind of a game changer because you're going from having a bunch of POTS lines to having something that takes DID numbers, so they ask about how many lines it's supports and things like that. That's really not the right question to ask, because the whole paradigm of lines goes out the window because we're talking about telephone numbers and the number of simultaneous calls, and codecs, and things that they never had to even consider before. A lot of the times it's because they're getting a new phone system at the facility or they just want to tighten things up.
Kirk: Okay. In the last few months I know you've worked on some pretty complicated systems. I wonder what you can say about the installation we did in New York City with ABC?
Joe: Yeah, that was good. They had some interesting requirements, and I got a whole bunch of them during the show, by the way. They wanted a system to replace a whole bunch of old hardware, rooms full of couplers on the wall, rooms full of stuff that was designed specifically for them for an analog environment. Disney, the parent company, has been deploying SIP in all their locations, so they thought that it was a good time to look at the different options available to them and of course we came up.
One of the things that they wanted us to work on was something they called "Dial a Prayer." How can I describe Dial a Prayer?-- it's a telephone number you call and 50 or so other affiliates can call into this number and it's couplers, it's an audio feed, which doesn't sound really complicated in itself. But we implemented it in a few lines of code in some software.
The way the system actually works is, you dial this number and when the number is dialed you hear a ringing tone for second. While that's happening a conference bridge is put together, then the system dials into a Telos VX where it receives the audio feed that's going to be fed to that conference bridge. Then it changes the conference bridge into a listen only bridge, then it starts letting people in to get the calls, to participate in the audio feed. Basically all that's done with just a few lines of code and no extra hardware and they're not using resources unless the system is being used. The whole thing is in a 2U box in their network control center, it's very straight forward.
We've got some other things that they want to add on to it and this had been kind of an experiment. They see the possibilities and they have all kinds of thing they want to do down the road with it, so I expect to be hearing from them continuously.
Kirk: I'm not even sure where to go next, there's so many questions. I'm still curious about how an engineer goes about replacing his old trusted and true phone lines, POTS, maybe ISDN, maybe PRI, maybe for the longest time he's been getting phone lines out of his PBX. As you mentioned, the replacement of the PBX is what triggers other changes in technology around the facility.
I know engineers who love their POTS lines, they have no interest in changing other than the POTS lines are costing them $85, $90 a month each, so they're spending literally hundreds even close to a $1000 a month on POTS line. Although maybe you shouldn't switch to SIP for the cost saving, or at least not alone, because there are ways you can do SIP that could cost as much, I suppose. What are you finding in engineers' attitudes about changing to this technology?
Joe: I have a good friend at a radio station that when they started out they wanted the VX. They liked what I brought, but they were really concerned about this whole SIP thing, so we did gateways and it worked. But then I sort of twisted his arm a little bit and said, "Let me show you what it would sound like if we did real native SIP." I said, "Well just show you, this is a demonstration, no big deal." I have a provider that I like to use for service over the Internet, they're my favorite one, it's called Vitelity.
So I logged into their website and on my account, and I added a couple of phone numbers in their market. I basically had him connect one of the ports to the system to the Internet and we set it all up. So within an hour or so I had this all going.
He liked it so much he got hooked. He started using the Internet for his phone calls because it sounded so good and the signaling was nice and tight, and everything. I said, "I just wanted to show you this. I really didn't intend for you to use it for all your calls." But he did for several months and I think they still use it for some hotlines and things like that. He likes the ability to do things like have phone numbers in different cities and all that, but he just mainly likes the sound of it and how good the signaling is, the disconnect supervision. If somebody hangs up it really goes away, things like that.
But anyway, I changed his mind. I've really abbreviated the story, but this went on over about a year.
Kirk: Sometimes I liken moving to SIP technology--I don't know, I guess the way it was when I first heard about IP audio, Livewire. I first read Steve Church's whitepaper and I really had to read it over and over again before it began to make sense. For three decades I had been wiring equipment, "Here's a "goes outta" in this piece of equipment and here's "goes inta" on this piece of equipment and I run a wire between them." To think that the same cable that's bringing in my email is also going to bring me my phone calls, I guess, for the longest time I didn't get that. I'm not always still sure that I do, it's kind of magical.
What would you say, what would you advise an engineer who just-- You can tell he's kind of hemming and hawing about this technology, because I'm not sure he gets it and I'm not sure that he wants to learn it.--what can somebody who doesn't understand this? How can you help to analog this in some other ways perhaps?
Joe: I have various methods; it sort of depends on the guy that I'm talking to. A lot of times I'll just say, "Humor me, try this." And we'll set it up in a painless way.
Kirk: "Humor me," that's a good idea.
Joe: Well it works in the trial close, right? Be honestly, I really believe in this stuff. I got rid of all my POTS stuff, I've been without it for a long time and I've never looked back. I can do things I could never do before. It sounds better.
Anyway, I'll do that or I'll talk to them and say, "Well, let's do a mix. Keep your POTS for emergencies or disaster recovery and use the SIP for the other stuff." They find that they never use the POTS for anything after that point, because they get hooked, too.
You want to consider whether you want to bring in a dedicated circuit or use something over the Internet. I generally have them do a dedicated circuit, because if it really matters it's not best effort, it's actually really predictable.
Kirk: Well, let's talk about that. So my little radio station in Mississippi, we've been on voice over IP for a long time for our business phones and we're going to bring our POTS also over to voice over IP. But that's actually the second example I want to go to.
Tell me more about the first example. If you want to get dedicated wired service from some SIP provider what are you typically looking at? Can you get this in small towns or big cities only? What typically is available?
Joe: Frankly, the small towns if you have reasonable internet can get away with the other, like your Mississippi stations are probably pretty well served by what you've got, right?
Joe: Yeah, in the medium and larger cities all the providers are typically available. I mean, a lot of times they'll want to bring it in over a T1. If you can get it some other way that's always nicer, because then you don't have the limitations that something coming in on copper brings with it. That varies by market, too.
We're dealing with stations in Tampa and Orlando right now and Orlando is AT&T and AT&T historically doesn't take care of their copper anymore. They've sort of abandoned it and their trying to get out of the copper business, but Verizon over in Tampa, just a few miles down the road, takes wonderful care of their copper. Their copper plant works really well. I think it has to do with hurricanes, but they've got buried copper and fiber and they do a great job with it, so it's not such a big deal there.
But the last mile decision, how you get that last mile delivered to your facility is probably one of the most important ones you can make. If fiber's available I would always go for the fiber, unless you've heard stories that the fiber provider's really dicey, but generally they're not. Generally they're always better than the copper provider.
Kirk: Let's say here in Nashville, one of the alternative providers available is XO Communications. You've probably dealt with XO a time or two, how will they typically get something to your building? Do they have their own infrastructure or will they resale some AT&T copper?
Joe: It depends on the building you're in. For example, we have them in Cleveland and it's five bonded T1s, because they don't have any fiber in that area right now. We're looking at some other options in Cleveland at this moment. There is a fiber that's running down 15th Street, right next us basically. There's some other companies that say they'll put fiber in and that's always a good deal.
The fiber provider may not be the carrier itself. It may be a metropolitan area network that has a connection at, they call it a "meet me room", which is basically a place where they can patch any provider to the fiber or to any other provider. For example, the stations down in Tampa, the Cox stations in Tampa, they've got more internet options than any place I've ever seen. They got copper, several fibers, several wireless. Fixed wireless is a very good option, by the way, depending on your market.
Joe: Yeah, you've got to look around. It's surprising what's out there and in some places it's surprising what's not out there. It varies wildly by market, it's amazing, so try to get an opportunity to have a phone call with somebody who's making that kind of a change and just run ideas past them and see what they've investigated and share our experiences that we've had with other providers in other cities, or possibly in their city. Those conversations are always really good. We can often come up with a way to save some money and come up with something that's more reliable.
Kirk: Hey, if Chris Tobin is still handy. Chris, are you there?
Chris: I'm here, yes. I'm here listening intently.
Kirk: So in New York City and the areas that you tend to frequent, if you want to get hardwired service from a VoIP provider, a SIP provider, is it always going to come in on some kind of Verizon copper or fiber or are there other infrastructures in the area? Tell me what the situation you find there is.
Chris: Well, I've worked on two projects recently. One of them was with Metro Ethernet, it's Verizon's fiber delivery system for businesses--formerly MCI Business, there's a whole history of it- -but they happen to bring fiber into buildings and then from there they split out the fiber to the various devices that give you IP or broadband for VoIP, for SIP trunks if you choose to go with them. There's still copper delivery of a lot of the SIP stuff.
Recently I've been working with a company, Rainbow Broadband, as Joe pointed out, a wireless local loop type of company. They provide point to point wireless drops and you get your internet and you can do whatever you want with it. You could you do a SIP, you have broadband, everything. Another company I was working with is Tower Stream, the same thing.
So here in the New York City area you have a couple of choices. You can do wireless from your building to a Tier 3 of Tier 2 backbone and off you go. Now, you don't have to depend on the phone company, you're actually point to point with a company that basically their business is to keep you up and running.
Kirk: I would not have thought that you'd recommend wireless that heavily.
Chris: Here's the difference, when we talk wireless--I've worked with a couple of radio stations recently when we we're talking wireless for stuff and they're talking Wi-Fi unmanaged 5.8, 2.4 gig stuff, blah, blah, blah. When you're dealing with wireless local loop folks they're dealing with licensed frequencies, managed SLAs, service level agreements, and a carrier-class approach to delivery.
So right now I'm working with a company who's providing us Internet capability or IP for an audio link for a major government agency. It's been over the public Internet through their network, which is wireless, into the backbone of the Internet and it's been flawless. I've been monitoring it. The box, the E-codecs will email be if there's a problem.
Traditionally somebody would have been like, "What are you crazy? In the building where you are there's a fiber drop. You should call up AT&T or Verizon and get their connection from there." These guys came up with the right solution, it works, it's solid. Their goal is to stay in business and they make sure that they give you carrier-class connectivity.
That's the trick. It's like VoIP systems. You have two types of communication. You have toll speech quality or you have business communication quality. The two are not the same, but depending on what you're willing to build your infrastructure to support will dictate the quality of service, or what is it? The mean opinion score, the M.O.S. It's got to be a 4.0 or better for it to be a suitable toll quality.
These are the things you have to learn and understand. Once you do that you can do wireless, you can do wired, a hybrid of both. As Joe, pointed out, he's doing stuff that he couldn't do with a wired POTS line anymore. There's a lot of stuff out there, you've just got to look for it.
Kirk: All right. Joe, earlier you mentioned the company Vitelity.
Oh, we lost Joe, okay. Well, that's because he's on a weak, a floppy connection way out there.
Chris: Yeah, Vitelity, I went to their website. It looks good.
Kirk: Oh, yeah. So, Chris, I'll ask you. I think I know some of the answers here. If it's not available, that is a separate drop for my new SIP service from some provider, but I want to use an Internet connection to do that. I guess one of the things that Joe suggests to people is that, "Well, get a separate Internet connection for your phone calls. It's going to cost you $100 a month, or whatever your separate Internet drop cost, but just get a whole separate drop for your Internet calls." Is that the first piece of advice that you would agree with?
Chris: Yeah, actually you'd take that approach and here's why. Say we're a major corporation, we're in a multilevel floor building, and we're Corporation XYZ and we have a VoIP system, say a VIA of a Nortel system. Typically what you would do is you would build out your infrastructure in two ways. One, you would do the VLAN for your VoIP traffic. Then you'd do another VLAN for your office traffic. Why do you do that? So that you can guarantee quality of service and a class of service for your VoIP to give you the robustness that you've become accustomed to for the last 100 years of a standard traditional dial up phone line or a PBX.
So since maybe your small business or your operation doesn't have the luxury of doing it that way, so go with a separate Internet connection and treat that as your ad hoc VLAN approach. So rather than, say, spend lots and lots of money on bandwidth coming into your building and then breaking it out into VLANs and managing a switch, just take a separate Internet line coming in and dedicate that just to voice traffic. That way your office traffic doesn't collide excessively with your VoIP and your quality and class of services don't get destroyed.
That's what Joe is recommending and it makes total sense. So in an office where you have a small group, say you're a 20 person office and you're doing a lot of stuff, Internet research or whatever you want to call it, but now you want to do VoIP phones because your traditional copper dial tone is just too costly. There's a good chance that you couldn't make both of them survive unless you're willing to manage the network, which means doing a proper managed switch, proper managed VoIP system, the whole bit. Go with the separate and in that way you've sort of created your own diversity for the packets. There's no chance for one to get onto the other, so you don't have to worry about VLANs.
Kirk: There's another point that hadn't actually crossed my mind until you started talking about reasons to have a second drop. Most of the time with an Internet connection our desire is speed, we want to download our email quickly, we want to be able to watch two movies at the same time from Netflix or whomever. Speed seems to be pretty important.
With VoIP services a VoIP phone call is going to be about 90 kilobits per second of packet. With VoIP bandwidth is not the ultimate arbiter of what service should you get. A 50-megabit service is not going to work any better for you than a 5-megabit service if five megabits is all you need, or less than that. Of course, you want to have as much upload bandwidth as you need, too.
Remember, calls are two-way, so it's about 90 kilobits per second for a regular VoIP call in either direction at the same time. So if it were me, and I guess at my stations it will be me, we have a cable modem service for most of our business needs, but if I get a second drop I'm going to try and get a DSL drop. Again, higher speed is not important, but being there all the time is important. Being a different provider than my other service is probably important. If I'm smart about it I should be able to have a way to swap those two if necessary using a router that I've preconfigured to handle it either way.
But again, just going back to the fact that for your home you want speed, but that's not necessarily what you need for VoIP. Joe, am I thinking about that right?
Joe: You are. As a rule DSL has less jitter typically.
Kirk: I've heard that.
Chris: Yep, that's right.
Joe: As compared to cable anyway. With fiber obviously it's not an issue, but yeah, DSL tends to be better. For example, I have two DSL lines here in my house, because it provides good telephony and it's pretty cheap. I can get DSL for $16.95 a month here. It's not fast, but it's adequate and it's provides better quality on the phone, so that's what I use for that.
Kirk: Got you, understood. So Joe, in the remaining minutes that we have here, we already talked about bringing dedicated bandwidth in, if you have a second Internet drop or let's say that you don't have a choice, you've got to use the same Internet drop. What would you advise engineers to think about? Here at my office, I've got the same Internet drop for everything I do, Netflix, and email, streams going out, this conversation, dial tone from Cleveland, from Telos. What advice would you give to somebody who has to use the same bandwidth for everything?
Joe: Get the right router. I mean, I've had kind of some bad experiences with some SonicWALLs so I can't really recommend those for VoIP. In some situations it's okay to use a home router like a Linksys router with different firmware on it, like Call Tomato. I use that a lot for low cost situations.
A lot of the routers from Mikrotik are excellent for that that and certainly Sysco. Basically Q.O.S. it and make sure that the traffic that needs to get there in a timely manner, the traffic that can't be deferred like voice of video gets out there first and it takes precedence over everything else.
Kirk: Got you, yeah. That's great advice. That's what's been my experience here at my place. I've gone through a plethora of cheap routers here. They just kept breaking. Then I got one of those Apple Airport extreme routers, because it looked like it was well made and it is. It worked great, but I couldn't go in and adjust the Q.O.S. settings. An Apple forum said I didn't need to, because Apple would handle it for me, but that didn't quite make me comfortable.
So I got one of these Mikrotik routers and oh my gosh, it's got a learning curve that's pretty steep for a guy like me. But I got help from you, from Dave Anderson, who's been a guest on here before, and from Internet forums, so the Mikrotik router is set up and it's working beautifully. I can have all these different services running at the same time and I don't see conflicts or problems because we're doing too much of one thing and trying to do something else at the same time. So, yeah, great advice, the router makes a difference. It makes a big difference.
Chris: Mikrotik is a deal, too. A lot of people don't know how much those things cost, but you can get a really capable one for like $59.
Kirk: Yeah, I've got one, it's down on the floor here somewhere, it's the one I stole from you. I was carrying it as a backup. I'm kind of done with it now; I guess I could ship it back to you if you want.
Chris: That's okay, I'm sure you'll find a need for it.
Kirk: At our radio stations we're putting in the Mikrotik routers that have built in Wi-Fi and have a little color touch screen, a little LCD screen so that somebody can just go bang on that screen and look at different parameters, how much data's flowing in and out, and such as that. This thing's under $200; it's $159 or thereabouts for Mikrotik router with all these features in it.
Chris: How do they do that?
Kirk: I think it's Linux, baby. I'm not sure.
Hey, guys we're about out of time. I could go on talking for hours and learning from Joe and from Chris about SIP and voice over IP. There's several references that I could recommend-- We're going to put a few things in the show notes today that we talked about--but one thing is the book that Steve Church and Skip Pizzi wrote about AoIP, Building Pro AoIP Systems with Livewire. That book is available at Amazon; it's available for the Kindle. It's not cheap, it's still up in the $45, $55 range, right in there, but that is just an awesome book. It's got a whole chapter on SIP. In fact, I think the SBE has used that chapter in whole or in part as part of helping SBE engineers learn about SIP.
I was stalling here for a second to try to find the--Yeah, you can get it right here on your Kindle the book by Steve Church and Skip Pizzi. [holds tablet up to camera] There it is, get that book right there. I'll put a link to it in the show notes as well. It's really good, it tells you all about audio over IP for your studios, but also that SIP primer.
There's lots of YouTube videos out there as well to learn about SIP. It's a technology you're going to have to learn. Do you think?
Joe: But it's so worth it.
Kirk: All right, guys we're out of time. We'd better go.
Thanks for joining us, Joe Talbot, from Pahrump, Nevada. I appreciate you being here.
I can come visit now that you've got your house cleaned up. Is the whole house that way?
Joe: Oh, there's parts, there's bedrooms I still haven't turned on yet. There's a long story behind this.
Kirk: That house is so big there's bedrooms you haven't been to yet.
Joe: That's possible, too.
Kirk: Oh, my goodness. Seriously, your house is probably bigger that a whole floor of Chris Tobin's building in New York.
Joe: It's crazy. I bought it at auction, anyway.
Kirk: Chris, Joe's got 13 bedrooms.
Chris: Oh, is that all, 13?
Chris: Are they individual studios for producing shows and stuff, those short-lived videos that you see that you watch all the time?
Joe: Right around the corner from me, I have a control room and a voice booth and I just had the window put in last week. We'll be doing stuff like this.
These two bedrooms were kind of small, so I thought it was a good use for it.
Chris: So you're the location that Art Bell's going to use as a backup. Gotcha, okay.
Joe: He sure could.
Kirk: There you go. Chris Tobin, the best dressed engineer in radio, thanks for being with us from Manhattan. I assume that's where you are.
Chris: Today I'm at an office across the river in New Jersey working with a broadcast group on some video stuff.
Kirk: Now if folks what to get in touch with Chris Tobin, not that you're not busy enough, is there some way that they can find you?
Chris: The easiest way is at my office we have support@IPcodecs.com, just drop me a note or just drop a note and either myself or one of the other guys will get back to you with the answers to the questions.
For you, Kirk, just to point out when you were talking about the different routers and stuff, and being able to get all the packets where they need to go, basically what you're saying is you have a managed network and that way you can ensure your VoIP calls will get through. That's what you're talking about.
Kirk: Yeah, a managed network, exactly.
Chris: That's the trick.
Kirk: All right, thanks, Chris.
Our show's been brought to you by the folks at Telos and the Telos VX multi-studio voice over IP phone system. Check it out on the web at telos-systems.com. I appreciate very much Telos sponsoring This Week in Radio Tech and making it available for you.
We've got guests coming up on upcoming shows, including one gentleman that you're going to want to meet, Robert Comms [SP] with Cumulus. He is one of the hardest working engineers I've ever met, gets more stuff done and does fabulous work. He was at that Academy of Country Music Awards Radio Row Show that we had going on in Las Vegas just before NAB. The guy's an engineering machine; I want you to meet him. He's coming up in a couple of weeks here on This Week in Radio Tech.
Next week I may or may not be here. I'll be in Adelaide, Australia, so you'll be in the capable hands of Chris Tobin, Chris Tarr, Tom Ray perhaps will be here. I think they have a guest next week, too, so we'll see what we can do about that.
Also, I wanted to mention, John Kean from NPR Labs is going to be our guest on an upcoming show as well. He'll be talking about a new way to measure loudness in audio signal level, so that's going to be interesting. There's an article about that in Radio World. He'll be talking to us about as well.
Got to go. Thanks to Andrew Zarian and the GFQ Network. We'll see you next week on This Week in Radio Tech.