At the Speed of Light: Fiber Connects Campus to Media World
The historic Rutgers 250th anniversary commencement in May 2016 was broadcast around the world, and Rutgers professors regularly go “live” on television—all via a 21st-century invention: optical fiber optic cable.
Peter Troost, assistant director of broadcast operations/production for Rutgers iTV Studio, answered queries about how fiber optic services work at Rutgers:
Q: How did the commencement broadcast get from the stadium to the world?
A: We used an internal university fiber optic line running from High Point Solutions Stadium to the Rutgers iTV Studio on Berrue Circle on Livingston campus. The feed from the production control room at the stadium was transmitted on that line to the studio—and then to AMV Gateway, a video communications company in Carteret, which then retransmitted the feed across the Hudson River to LIVESTREAM, a media streaming service.
Once the signal got to New York City, it could get to any news network by ‘cross patching’ to those networks’ broadcast systems.
Q: How does iTV Studio support Rutgers faculty and staff?
A: It’s common that television networks or affiliates ask faculty, staff, coaches, and students for interviews. The iTV Studio is a convenient site where they can be interviewed remotely by the media.
The interviewee sits in the studio with a microphone. The TV hosts are able to talk to the interviewee via an earpiece. While looking into our studio camera, the person is interviewed live or “live to tape” for broadcast later on. All the while, there’s the Rutgers backdrop behind the interviewee.
Q: Any examples?
A: There is so much going on at the University—so much research—and so many people who can speak about issues that the radio and television media cover.
We get a lot of phone calls to set up live feeds from iTV Studio—from CNN, Fox, Bloomberg and Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera, for example, has interviewed faculty from the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
We're saving the professors a lot of time. They can be interviewed and then get back to work. Sometimes, when it's a hot-button issue, they could be getting several interview requests over a few days. So they would be on the road constantly getting to the networks. But by coming over here to iTV Studio, we can put them on radio and television rather quickly. We're used to setting up these interviews at the drop of a hat.
Q: What are the advantages of fiber optic transmission of video or any other data?
A: Rutgers for a number of years has leased a dedicated fiber optic line from Verizon. There are three advantages: Speed, signal strength, and digital signals.
— First, fiber optic signals travel faster than any other type of signal used by the media. That’s because signals travel along optical fiber cables via the speed of light (186,000 miles per second).
The speed of fiber optic cable is measured by how much data can be sent in any given time. Rutgers uses a “1.5-gigabyte” line, meaning it delivers 1.5 gigabytes of data per second.
— Second, fiber optic cable suffers less signal loss and electromagnetic interference as compared with signals sent through the air via satellite, via the internet, or over metal wires.
— Third, fiber supports the newer high-definition (HD) television standards. iTV Studio adopted HD standards and phased out sateliite dishes several years ago.