State broadcaster, Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU), has chosen GatesAir’s FM radio transmission technology, including its Flexiva transmitter, its Intraplex intelligent IP networking, and Single Frequency Network (SFN) solutions to expand its multi-channel FM radio services across Egypt. GatesAir joined forces with local partner Cairo Communication Systems (CCS) to negotiate the deal. The contract was awarded in December of 2016 by ERTU, led by Managing Director Amr Shedid.
GatesAir will serve as a technology provider to CCS, which will be responsible for providing ongoing technical and installation support to ERTU. The installation is set to begin in Q2 of 2017 and is scheduled for completion at the end of the year when the transmitters will be broadcasting ERTU-run FM radio stations over the air.
As the largest digital FM radio rollout to date in the Middle East, the deal will see the deployment of 27 GatesAir Flexiva FLX 10 kW liquid-cooled, solid-state transmitters configured in an 8+1 single-frequency network (SFN). When completed, the infrastructure will consist of three transmission sites, each of which will have a cluster of eight synchronised Flexiva transmitters, plus one transmitter serving as a backup that is set up for automated failover. This 8+1 configuration also makes this SFN the largest of its kind in the world, according to GatesAir.
Speaking about the deployment, Rich Redmond, chief product officer at GatesAir said: “ERTU broadcasts many FM radio services, predominantly in central Egypt. With the addition of this energy-efficient FM radio SFN transmission infrastructure, they’ll be able to greatly expand their FM radio coverage area to include remote regions hundreds of kilometers away where people cannot currently receive any over the air radio stations. By delivering these government-run radio services to underserved areas, the public will now have access to the valuable information, music, talk and public service programming ERTU’s FM stations air.”
One area of interest is Northern Egypt. This includes a long stretch of freeway that runs from Cairo to the beaches on the Mediterranean Sea that are frequented by locals, vacationers and tourists. By installing a single-frequency network, these listeners will now have reliable FM radio reception, with no dead spots or RF interference as they drive through the coverage area. With each SFN of eight transmitters broadcasting the same signals simultaneously, the reception is seamless even when they overlap each other because the transmitters are all aligned to the same GPS timing source.
This synchronisation is enabled by GatesAir Intraplex IP Link audio codecs, which will support all intelligent IP networking needs from ERTU’s studio in Cairo and at the transmitter sites. The IP Link includes a built-in Intraplex SynchroCast option to dynamically manage precision delays that keep the SFNs broadcasting simultaneously and in sync via the private IP network infrastructure.
“This installation helps GatesAir prove that our FM radio transmitters and SFN technology are capable of handling the demands of this state-of-the-art configuration reliably, and without compromising the signal quality or listener experience. We will also demonstrate that, despite our technology’s high-performance, this installation will be cost-effective and leverage our green, high-efficiency PowerSmart 3D architecture,” added Redmond.