Sports events live in your living room

We link stadiums and TV studios with ultra-fast connections so that football fans can see the images from the Raiffeisen Super League at home in HD.

An interview with Stefan Leuthold, Business Development Project Manager at Swisscom Broadcast.

How are sound and images transmitted from the football stadium to the studio?

Stefan Leuthold: There are two options: either by optical fibres or satellite. With our Broadcast Highway Video service, we operate our own fibre optic network for the stadiums in the Raiffeisen Super League and the ice hockey arenas of National League A. A permanent on-site connection is used exclusively for live broadcasting because the data rates for HD transmissions are very high.

Permanent access, however, is not worthwhile at every event site – the live broadcasts of the Swiss Challenge League or handball matches are therefore broadcast via satellite. And, we usually also receive matches from abroad via satellite using our Broadcast Highway Sat service.

Who are your customers?

Mainly Teleclub. We transmit all content needed for a sports production from the event itself to the Teleclub TV studios. Another customer is the Federal Chancellery for the transmission of Federal Council media conferences.

How exactly do the TV signals travel to the studio by optical fibre?

A TV production team sets up on-site with cameras and production vehicles and records the event. The cables with the signals are simply plugged in to our access point from the production vehicles, it is all relatively unspectacular. We handle encoding, transfer of image and sound data to the network and transmission to the customer.

How is it different from transmission via satellite?

A match is ordered from us several days in advance. Our on-site partners handle the uplink to the satellite. We are then given the parameters for the downlink, receive the satellite signals on large parabolic dish antennas in our downlink station in Olten and route the decrypted content to our customers.

How do you guarantee such a spontaneous service?

Flexibility is part of our day-to-day business. We offer a 24/7 service with our Network Management Center. There is visual monitoring for every match. We are in close contact with partners, usually international ones, for satellite links.

Are there challenges?

Of course. It isn't easy to ensure almost 100% availability while simultaneously providing top quality. We also feel a responsibility to viewers who want to watch their club's match on TV. Reliability is the most important factor here. Which is why it is so important that our network is continuously monitored and redundantly secured. Innovation is also important. Terminals often set the trend here. 

Can you give an example?

The equipment in the entire production chain is defined by the HD television in the living room, from the HD cameras in the stadium to the workstations in the studio. High-performance networks are also needed to transmit HD signals. HD will soon be replaced by UltraHD (UHD or 4K), and the successor to UHD is already in sight. Everything is interlinked.

Your product is called Broadcast Highway. What is behind it?

In our business, unrestricted travel on the data highway at high speed and with no traffic congestion is the highest priority. And it's about flexibility, which is very important to our customers.