Bluebell Opticom Ltd., a provider of innovative fibre optic solutions for fixed and remote applications, recently announced that European mobile broadcasting company CTV Outside Broadcasts has installed a customised fibre multiplexing system designed by Bluebell into one of its outside broadcast (OB) vans. The new system makes it possible for CTV to increase its use of the pre-existing fibre infrastructure at an event location and decrease the amount of fibre it has to lay. At the same time, the Bluebell solution gives CTV the flexibility to add to or reconfigure the system as needed for different applications, and the ability to recover a signal should the on-site fibre core fail.
“We wanted to increase our utilisation of dark fibre cores — particularly when we’re running low on fibres or when faults appear — whilst reducing the number of cores we have to rig for a production. We already own a lot of Bluebell equipment and have a valued history of working with them to create fibre solutions that overcome our many challenges, so I had complete trust that Bluebell would deliver just what we needed,” said Hamish Greig, technical director at CTV Outside Broadcast. “We’re currently using Bluebell’s custom solution for golf, and it has proven so successful that we’ll be purchasing at least one more system. Eventually we plan to use it across our complete range of productions — sport, entertainment, and reality — wherever we use dark fibres.”
CTV’s compact, customised Bluebell solution consists of eight BC364 cards inside two BC160 frames. The cards are configured to serve as an optical multiplexer that lets CTV run four cameras down just two cores of fibre instead of the eight fibres that are usually required. The system can be expanded to link 16 cameras and also provide remote signal-status monitoring. In addition, the system allows for wavelength remapping in the event of the failure or loss of a fibre core at the venue — an especially important capability in live sports broadcasting.
CTV first used the system in March at the Hassan II Golf Trophy in Morocco and has since been using it primarily on golf courses, many of which have existing fibre networks that CTV can now tap into easily. Even though the BC364 cards are used to satisfy a specific application now, they are flexible enough to be modified and built upon for different functionality and different applications later.
“CTV are a prime supplier of sports OBs and are contracted by the European PGA Golf Tour, so they will benefit greatly from more efficient use of dark fibre,” said Paul McCann, managing director of Bluebell Opticom. “This system lets CTV leverage preinstalled fibre, which is much more convenient for mobile production crews than rigging and striking their own cable. And the beauty of basing the system on the BC364 card is that it’s a building block that can be reconfigured to serve many purposes, so CTV gets maximum scalability to cover all kinds of events.”