Building a national broadcast network using IP
We’re pleased to announce that the new state-of-the-art, all-IP broadcast network we designed and built for the BBC is now up and running.
Back in January 2016, we were awarded a seven-year contract worth over £100m to provide the BBC with its internet-technology based broadcast network, delivering considerable savings and paving the way for future digital innovation.
What did the BBC want?
As you’d expect from a broadcaster that offers such a wide range of services, they have to meet the demands of a growing audience, who engage in content across different formats, from TV broadcasts to streaming. Their goal was to future-proof their network as far as possible, ensuring it could handle all digital traffic. This meant they needed a pan-UK network with 4.7Tbps of capacity, with a core network of 2,917 video and audio circuits and 728 data circuits. In order to achieve this, the key focus was to:
- remove complex and obsolete technology
- move the interchange points from telco premises to BBC sites
- enable unified management of video and audio interfaces
- prepare for end-to-end all IP working.
How did we respond?
Over the course of 18 months, we undertook an immense programme of network design and construction. This included installing new optical fibres to multiple BBC sites across the UK and fitting new equipment to connect the BBC’s television, radio, iPlayer and data services to the new network.
We worked closely with experts from the BBC, as well as with our trusted suppliers, including Ciena, Cisco and Nevion. This enabled our Media & Broadcast division to lead a programme of works that mobilised over a thousand engineers.
The technology underpinning the new network includes ultra-high capacity optical systems from Ciena, the latest generation of Ethernet switches from Cisco, plus Software Defined Network (SDN) controllers and media adapters from Nevion.
In a relative short space of time, we’ve delivered a powerful new network.
Mark Wilson-Dunn, VP of Media & Broadcast, said: “Just eighteen months ago, the BBC announced that they had selected our team to provide a bespoke, next-generation broadcast network. I’m immensely proud of the work of all of our engineers and experts, and our collaboration with suppliers, which has enabled us to deliver a network fit for the future.”
It’s not just the network which has been a huge success. Mark continued: “I’m also delighted with the spirt of close collaboration that has developed between the BBC and BT during the programme. This has set us up for an excellent working relationship for the rest of the contract.”
With the network having scale to grow to support innovation, it’s going to be an exciting few years ahead.