MDR: Making the Jump to Unbreakable Live Broadcast


MDR - Uninterrupted outside transmission with SD-WAN

The Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk (MDR) is a public broadcaster in central Germany. Founded in 1991, MDR has 2,100 employees and is a member of the ARD, a joint organisation of Germany’s regional public-service broadcasters. It broadcasts news, information, education and entertainment over television, radio and the Internet podcasts.


When reputation is at stake

The tension rises! The second round of ski jumping at the Nordic World Ski Championships is entering its final phase. Only one jumper remains to determine the final champion. The crowd is drawing its breath, the trainer gives the start signal, and the last ski jumper takes off – suddenly the connection to the live broadcast is interrupted, leaving thousands of fans hanging, angry and frustrated with the broadcaster.


MDR often provides live broadcasts over outdoor sports events, political events, concerts and so on, during which interruptions are unacceptable. While stutters can be annoying, Interruptions for just a few seconds can be catastrophic, and could seriously affect viewer satisfaction and MDR’s reputation. This is all the more important when the event is broadcast exclusively by the station.

The solutions
In the initial stages of planning, MDR decided to look for a router solution with failover capability to improve reliability and security. This solution must be flexible enough to support outdoor broadcast deployment and user needs. It must also be compatible with alternative forms of connectivity in the event that wired connection is not available. “Especially in the current business there is the problem of the short-term provision of Internet connections,” explains Uwe Schumann, employee of the transmission systems and networks department at MDR. “The providers require a considerable lead time of at least three to six weeks to provide the connections. Therefore, we were looking for a solution that would allow us to make capacities available in a timely manner.”

After extensive research on the Internet, MDR became aware of Peplink and Vitel GmbH , a value added distributor of Peplink’s unbreakable connectivity solutions. MDR held talks with Vitel and its partner Ascend to define their requirements. While there was competition from other candidates, such as Viprinet, “in the end, the Peplink solutions convinced us with their good price-performance ratio and their intuitive usability,” says Uwe Schumann. “The versatile product range including above all the central management platform InControl2 and the flexibility of the network routing corresponded exactly to our ideas.”

Vitel and Ascend advised MDR on the specific selection of the individual products. MDR finally decided on using Peplink’s Balance series enterprise routers and MAX HD and Transit series mobile routers. Peplink’s InControl 2 is also used for cloud-based device management, monitoring and reporting and was installed on an existing VMware server.


Value-added distributor Vitel supplied the right solution
The solutions

The versatile product range including above all the central management platform InControl2 and the flexibility of the network routing corresponded exactly to our ideas.”

Uwe Schumann, Systems and Networks Department. MDR.

After extensive research on the Internet, the MDR became aware of the value-added distributor Vitel and the products from Peplink. In the initial contact, those responsible at the radio and television station held talks with Vitel GmbH and its partner Ascend to define MDR’s requirements. The manufacturer Viprinet was shortlisted as a competitor. “In the end, the Peplink solutions convinced us with their good price-performance ratio and their intuitive usability,” says Uwe Schumann. “The versatile product range including above all the central management platform InControl2 and the flexibility of the network routing corresponded exactly to our ideas.” Vitel and Ascend GmbH advised the MDR on the specific selection of the individual products. The decision was finally made in favor of the router solutions Balance 710, MAX HD4 LTE-A and MAX Transit Duo LTE-A. Peplink’s cloud-based device management, monitoring and reporting tool InControl2 is also used and was installed on an existing VMware server.


Optimal connection due to powerful Peplink devices

The MDR uses three Balance 710 hubs to network the data centers and create geo-redundancy for the end devices. For this purpose, two of the devices are installed at different locations. The third router acts as a replacement device if one of the other two should fail. Via the 710 hubs, the MAX HD4 and MAX Transit Duo routers can connect to the respective site networks via SpeedFusion tunnel. This creates a stable high-speed SD-WAN connection that allows data to be transferred quickly and without interference between the outside broadcast location and the broadcasting studio. Since two Balance 710 routers are installed on redundant gigabit fiber optic lines, both a primary and a secondary tunnel are set up. If a leased line or even a data center (DC) fails, the devices in the field automatically switch to the still functioning DC.
MDR
Thanks to the two tunnels a constant speed is guaranteed in addition to reliability. If, for example, the primary tunnel is too slow or not available, the Peplink’s outbound rule can be used to switch to the secondary tunnel. A HD4 router was installed by the MDR in a transmission vehicle specially designed for outside broadcasts, another HD4 functions as a portable high-performance transmission device. To increase the bandwidth, the HD4 offers the option of bundling four SIM cards. “We use the portable Transit Duo routers (three of them) as support for smaller live broadcasts that have to be transmitted quite quickly,” says Uwe Schumann.


Conclusion

In order to give the viewers and listeners of the MDR an optimal live feeling during outside broadcasts a stable connection is essential. With Peplink’s router solutions, the broadcaster can bundle all available bandwidths and thus ensure reliable data transmission at all times. One of MDR’s project goals was to be able to offer a central bonding solution for the entire MDR group of companies, including the subsidiaries. In the future, these subsidiaries should operate their own routers and manage them independently. “The integration of the Peplink devices and the bundled bandwidth in combination with the existing transmission systems guarantees that maximum reliability is achieved in the transmission of live recordings,” says Uwe Schumann. “The router solutions support us in various application scenarios, for example in the area of ​​audio over IP for radio broadcasting, where actual live transmissions take place into the current program, online reporting or the transfer of contributions and raw material between the outside broadcasting location and the headquarters. We can easily manage the solutions via the multi-client capable management platform InControl2 and with the managed service from Peplink we also save time and money.”


The integration of the Peplink devices and the bundled bandwidth in combination with the existing transmission systems guarantees that maximum reliability is achieved in the transmission of live recordings.”

Uwe Schumann, Systems and Networks Department. MDR.