Surfhire on track for UK Athletics events
Thursday, 5 September 2019
muller-grand-prix-birminghamThe Müller Grand Prix Birmingham
UK - Communications solutions specialist, Surfhire, has provided essential services for UK Athletics (UKA), the governing body of athletics in the UK, for the 10th consecutive year.
Responsible for overseeing the governance of athletics events in the UK as well as its athletes, their development, and athletics officials, the UKA hosts a programme of key events throughout the British summer.
For the 2019 season, Surfhire deployed a considerable amount of kit, including walkie talkies, matrix intercom, commentator systems and extensive networking services across six events.
The comms, radios and networking infrastructure - with comms for the UK Athletics Sport Presentation being run by head of comms, Paul Carter - is a multi-faceted operation. A central control area and several remote locations, as well as interfacing to the host broadcaster, The BBC, all come under Carter’s supervision.
For the comms rack, Surfhire utilised an RTS Adam 80-way Intercom Matrix, an RVON IO IP Convertor, Optocore X6R-FX Fibre Convertor, Wohler VAMP-SDR Audio monitor, Canford Audio patch bay, and Sonifex Redbox Audio DA with assorted panels; KP32 CLD, KP32 and KP12.
Glen Fuller working for Surfhire took charge of the radio shack and RF base. The RF Rack boasted Bolero V2 Base, Bolero Beltpacks, Bolero Active Antennae, two TAIT TB7100 bases and four Surfhire SiFace simplex radio interfaces.
Surfhire’s Simon Hodge, who has provided comms packages for Hugh Jackman, Drake, Take That, Coldplay, Robbie Williams, Sam Smith, One Direction, Queen + Adam Lambert and Radiohead tours, comments: “It’s great to be involved with such prestigious sporting events for UKA. Each event is fully bespoke and must be highly developed for an effortless delivery from the track to the broadcast team. UK Athletics is watched by millions of fans in both the stadiums and at home and we’re pleased to have been part of the delivery for another successful year.”
Hodge continues: “The radio system is quite busy, with four repeated channels - one of which is talkback for the important UKA Sports Presentation. There are eight simplex channels integrated with PTT from the comms crate using the SiFace interfaces.”
The system also utilises three TAIT TB7100s, two Hytera RD985s repeaters, Surfhire UHF Circulators, Surfhire UHF Antenna distribution and a Radio Services’ Colinear Antennae Array. Networking is looked after by Fabrice Quirin, working in conjunction with UKA’s Andy Lakin.
The UKA events took place at both indoor and outdoor arenas, this year including: Spar British Athletics Indoor Championships, Müller Indoor Grand Prix Birmingham, Müller Anniversary Games, Müller Grand Prix Birmingham and the Müller British Athletics Championships.
Hodge says: “The system is configured differently to suit each venue; for example, in London we have fibre terminating in to two separate comms rooms so that we have ‘disaster resilience’.
“Every system has a high-grade firewall plus backup in each location with automatic fall-over between areas and the ability to load balance between the two circuits. In the busiest area - the Press Benches - we have a lot of network technology. Almost every seat on these benches has its own 8-port switch which trunks VLANs for internet, results terminals, video over IP and our own LAN for Access points.
“This way, we offer a very high channel density of WiFi yet attending journalists can plug in to a network port. We tend to keep RF power quite low and distributed rather than just increasing the power, and this works very well.”
(Jim Evans)

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