This latest venture further extended NEP Connect’s portfolio of venues, with fibre connectivity following its success connecting all Premier League football and Rugby World Cup stadia.
It meant Sky Sports was able to provide unrivalled live coverage of the Championship across a dedicated TV channel, online and via mobile and tablet devices with Sky Go.
A relatively short lead time, also allowed NEP Connect to demonstrate their ability to rapidly turn projects around. NEP Connect provided main vision and reverse vision on fibre, but also SNG back-up, which meant there was the option to switch to satellite if necessary, to ensure continuous service and give Sky crucial confidence in NEP Connect’s ability to deliver.
Although “Ally Pally” is one of the country’s iconic venues, the timescales involved and the size of Alexandra Palace, created their own challenges.
The quoting process began in early August and NEP Connect completed testing just 24 hours before the event began on December 17th. However, the key to a successful delivery was the amount of planning that went into installation and the attention to detail by several NEP Connect personnel.
NEP Connect negotiated the supply of fibre from Vodafone and translated the customer requirements, and its knowledge of Telco escalation processes, ensured the project stayed on schedule. NEP Connect worked with the venue for access and location of the rack installation, also arranging access for the site surveys, fibre install and testing of the circuit.
“Extending our fibre reach to Alexandra Palace was another step in our growing portfolio, to support our vision to be the connectivity provider of choice for critical media content.”
NEP Connect actively managed the project’s suppliers and, although this required several site visits, it meant they could ensure there were no delays gaining access, cable runs were kept to a minimum and everything was kept on track.
MediaCityUK network operations centre (NOC) engineers configured the network between Alexandra Palace and Sky Osterley, while the projects team configured and tested the kit on-site. The projects team carried out the design, build and installation for the fibre rack. NEP Connect worked with Vodafone for the delivery of the fibre connection between sites to MediaCityUK but liaised directly with the venue to negotiate a position to install a rack. This was on the basis that this would make the venue more attractive to broadcasters to utilise the facility and therefore a benefit to both NEP Connect and the venue long term.
All the planning paid off with the fibre circuit delivered on time. It performed faultlessly during the tournament, while the backup satellite solution – a single dish truck with engineer on site transmitting a single feed – showed NEP Connect’s unique strength in being able to provide resilience if needed.
David Meynell, managing director, NEP Connect, said: “Extending our fibre reach to Alexandra Palace was another step in our growing portfolio, to support our mission to be the connectivity provider of choice for critical media content. During the Rugby World Cup we rolled out fibre connections at every venue, coupled with comprehensive satellite links, we also added a third layer of resilience via microwave at some venues. Similarly, for the darts our SNG back-up gave Sky Sports confidence and peace of mind that NEP Connect would deliver a faultless service. We are the only company who can provide fibre and satellite connectivity to ensure no outage.
“It’s vital we have a reliable and technically robust connectivity partner and NEP Connect was the obvious choice to work with.”
“The planning that went into the delivery was crucial. On top of that, our “hands-on” approach and attention to detail, combined with a motivated and competent team, ensured all obstacles were overcome to secure a successful project.”
James Clement, Head of operations for Sky Sports, said: “It’s the party of the year with huge characters, huge crowds and huge check outs. But behind the World Championship is a serious live television operation to ensure if they can’t be there, Sky Sports viewers enjoyed the next best thing on our dedicated darts channel. It’s vital we had a reliable and technically robust connectivity partner and NEP Connect was the obvious choice to work with.”
“We are the only company who can provide fibre and satellite connectivity to ensure no outage.”
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