"Great job Andy, on keeping our coaches communicating year after year. Even in a big game like Super Bowl XLl, the heavy rains came and all our plays got through. Telex Intercom puts out a superior product. That's why the NFL uses it!!"
Ron Turner -Coach
Big Ten - NFL
"Before we bought the Telex communication and headsets from Andy, our head phone system was old. The batteries were running out of charge, hearing cab drives, or not working at all. The Telex System has been the answer to your dreams. We have been able to communicate with more than one coach talking at a time. We are able to disperse information much quicker and make calls much faster as well. My staff during the game is 100 times more efficient because of it."
Andy Bitto – Head Coach, Athletic Director
Carmel High School- Illinois
"I was surprised at how inferior our other system was until we started using the Legacy. We were all amazed at how clear the sound was through the headsets. Game Time Communications helped us out from start to finish. We even purchased stickers with our school logo, to attach to the Legacy system and antenna."
Mike Burzawa – Head Coach
Evanston Township High School
“After a couple of years of struggling to keep our old system running, it was time for a change. We wanted the best system on the market and after seeing the Telex Legacy, we knew we had found it. We purchased it in 2008 and haven’t had a single issue. The Legacy is lightweight, easy to set up and use and our signal is loud, clear, and secure. Game Time Communication assisted us every step of the way and our experience with them has been great. You can’t beat their service and support. I have and will continue to recommend them.”
Tony Monken - Head Coach
Vernon Hills High School – Illinois
Tech Focus: Intercoms Move Deeper into Networked Mode
The broadcast sports community looks to finally make the transition to IP
By Dan Daley, Audio Editor
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Intercoms have been transporting audio over IP for a decade. Broadcast sports, however, has been playing catch-up in the category. “We’ve been seeing this on the entertainment side for some time, where they’re more used to trying new things,” observes Vinnie Macri, product marketing manager, Clear-Com.
However, he adds, the sheer scale of intercom for sports productions puts IP bandwidth costs out of reach for all but the biggest, which require dedicated bandwidth from ISPs like Comcast. For the vast majority of broadcasts, such as the hundreds of collegiate games done each year, rented trunked IP would not be cost-effective.
The Internet is an alternative but not for complex productions. “You can’t put Dante or AES67 on the Internet; a Dante stream is 1 Gigabit,” Macri adds. “The benefit of the network is the ability to share [data] over LANs and WANs, especially from venue to venue, such as at the Olympics.”
Bexel’s Rod Allen sees in IP the potential for an intercom tool for budget-challenged sports distributors.
However, the use of Internet connections for moving comms audio on a larger scale appears inevitable, and Clear-Com is looking to its LQ Series interfaces, which can connect two-wire and four-wire audio and call signaling over IP networks as a solution. Macri cites Golf Channel proof-of-concept tests during a tournament at the Doral Golf Resort in Miami last year: eight IP interfaces sent four four-wire comms and IFB audio to the network’s broadcast facility in Orlando. Golf Channel tested a similar configuration of the LQ interfaces at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, GA, last April.
Andy Cocallas, owner of Game Time Communications, sees IP-based intercoms as a solution to disappearing RF spectrum. Game Time has provided intercoms for all 32 NFL stadiums and London’s Wembley Stadium, as well as for numerous Division I, II, and III colleges and high schools.
“Aside from the lower latency and better sound we’re experiencing with audio-over-IP, it’s also more affordable because it eliminates the need for base stations: you can take a direct feed from the beltpack to a network switch,” he explains. “That helps sell it to high schools and smaller colleges and broadcasters, which accelerates its uptake.”
It’s not a perfect solution for large networks. Cocallas cites the need for IT knowledge to keep large networks up and running, as well as the fact that a full-duplex intercom system can cut into network bandwidth. However, each active source on a 100-Mbit VLAN network uses only a fraction of a percent of that bandwidth.
“A system can be used on an existing network and uses only a small part of available bandwidth and does not degrade the host network,” he points out. “It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.”
Loss of spectrum is a concern for wireless comms and IFB. Broadcasters and manufacturers alike are phasing out systems that use UHF spectrum, reserving what’s left for wireless microphones. “We’re looking at newer technologies, digital technologies, and higher frequency ranges to address the issue,” says Macri.
According to Rod Allen, senior project manager, Bexel — which sells, rents and manages communications systems for broadcast and other productions — migration to IP-based transport is taking place across the range of intercom types. Two-wire beltpack-based systems have been moved further in that direction by Clear-Com’s HelixNet partyline system, he says, adding that four-wire systems have been using IP-based systems from Clear-Com, Riedel, and Telex for various applications for some time. In particular, he notes how many organizations have been using RTS’s RVON interface to connect VoIP into their ADAM intercom frames.
In terms of wireless communications, Allen points out that the 1.9- and 2.4-GHz ranges are already proving to be viable alternatives to the disappearing UHF bands. He notes that such systems as Clear-Com's recently upgraded Free Speak ll wireless intercom systems and CoachComm's Tempest systems, which use an antenna system that can be rolled out over Cat 5 and Cat 6 cabling, can provide comprehensive wireless intercom systems for widely dispersed events.
Looking over the horizon at the potential for WiFi systems, Allen says that products like IntraCom’s V.Com system, which lets personal devices like smartphones plug into a network and act like beltpacks, point toward an intercom tool available to budget-challenged sports distributors, such as small and midsize collegiate and regional sports networks.
Intercoms are one more part of the broadcast-audio ecosphere that’s moving from the circuit to the network. And, even though it’s taking place as the price of copper drops to record levels, the upshot will be faster, simpler, clearer communications.
Game Time plays to win with
Telex coaches’ intercom
by Dan Daley
From the local high school to the top professional teams, effective communication between on-field and off-field coaching staff is a crucial aspect of maintaining a high level of football play. Part of the coaching staff works from up in the coaches' booth, with its commanding big-picture view of the field and the opposing team’s formations. The rest of the staff is on the sidelines with the head coach and the team itself. The job of the intercom is to bridge the two locations, enabling the fast flow of the information a head coach needs in order to make split-second decisions about how best to deploy the team. Top football intercom consultant Andy Cocallas of Game Time Communications, who has worked on intercoms at all 32 NFL stadiums and Wembley Stadium in London, England, as well as numerous colleges and high schools, uses exclusively Telex brand intercom systems for this key function.
“Generally you have an offensive coordinator and one or more assistant coaches on the sidelines talking to a couple of offensive assistant coaches up in the booth,” Cocallas says, “and then you have the same thing for the defense. And you have the head coach, also on the sidelines, and he’s switching back and forth between offense and defense. The coaches on the field have a Telex TR-1 wireless beltpack clipped at their hip, and the coaches in the booth have a Telex BP-2002 wired beltpack. They both use Telex PH-100 or PH-200 headsets, or, in the case of the NFL, headsets that were co-designed but built by Telex.”
In the pro leagues, Cocallas says, the configuration of the intercoms is shaped in part by NFL rules. “Each team’s on-field coaches’ intercom system is limited to a maximum of ten wireless and three wired units. For the booth the main restriction is the physical space; you can only get so many coaches in one of those rooms.”
One crucial factor influencing the choice of system for the pro teams is their need for encryption. “When a system is encrypted,” Cocallas explains, “it’s similar to when you and your neighbor both have a similar garage door opener. It doesn’t open his garage when you hit your button, because each opener has a different encryption code. In the pros and with many Division 1 college teams, they want to avoid a situation where everyone can listen to and talk to each other because they have the same system and they’ve ended up on the same frequency.” Most UHF systems are not encrypted, Cocallas says, which is a big factor in the use league-wide of the Telex BTR-1 system, which uses Telex’s proprietary ClearScan technology and provides secure wide-band full-duplex communications.
Cocallas, who often handles RF frequency coordination, names both venue size and local wireless congestion as key factors explaining the use of UHF for the NFL games. “UHF definitely gives you the clearest audio, and has superior ability to deal with crowded RF environments, so you’re more likely to find clear channels,” he says. “Many manufacturers don’t even have UHF systems for football; they are all 2.4-GHz Wi-Fi. And Wi-Fi has limitations, particularly in domed stadiums, in terms of dropouts and the quality of the audio. So aside from Telex there really aren’t many systems that are designed to match up well with the needs of high-level football teams.”
Routing for the BTR-1 system is provided by a Telex FM-1 system with the QSB-1 card reader and the SMP (system manager program) working together as a system that allows a user to easily manage frequency and intercom settings for a system of up to ten BTR-1s along with TR-1 beltpacks. “We typically run with six different channels,” he says. “For example, I might have offense on channels 1 and 2, defense on channels 3 and 4, and special teams on 5 and 6. With the FM-1/BTR-1, any six of those channels can be assigned, either manually or by the computer interface, to any wireless beltpack on the field. In the coaches booth the intercom is routed with a Telex IC-100 six-channel intercom source assign panel.
College and high school systems
While the BTR-1 system is used in the NFL and for some Division 1 colleges, other college teams in Division 1, 2, or 3 utilize unencrypted Telex UHF systems such as the BTR-80N, which uses narrower bands to increase the potential availability of clear channels when the RF environment is crowded. “The BTR-80N is a great system,” says Cocallas, who’s provided coaches’ intercom for dozens of colleges. “At Wheaton College here in Illinois, for example, they were having a lot of issues with Wi-Fi interference in the area. There are large Wi-Fi towers close by, and wireless scoreboards that caused drop-outs. Normally you can avoid a lot of that by going with the Telex BTR-800 or BTR-700, but the Chicago metropolitan area, where I’ve been working with the Chicago Bears for the last 13 seasons, is a particularly tough RF environment. We brought in the BTR-80N, and it was a lot easier for them to get clear channels without interference.”
In smaller stadiums that don’t have Chicago’s RF challenges, such as most high schools and lower Division colleges, Cocallas finds that a high-quality Wi-Fi system often works fine. “A big part of what I do in those situations involves the Telex Legacy system,” he says. The Legacy series uses 802.11 wireless LAN technology and is encrypted with 64-bit DES. “It’s a good little out-of-the-box, inexpensive, easy setup system for up to seven wireless coaches and you can easily add a few extra coaches in the booth with some inexpensive Telex cable splitters to make a great nine-coach high school system. It’s a great product that’s durable, reliable, and has an industry-leading warranty.” Cocallas has provided the Legacy to hundreds of high schools across the country, providing service, training, troubleshooting, and game-time support. He even has an Illinois Division 8 state finalist high school using the Legacy in Ireland for a 2012 featured football game, as Telex products are also built for international use.
For larger high schools and small colleges, Cocallas is looking forward to deploying the new RTS BTR-240, also a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi system. “It’s got more filters than Legacy,” he says, “so in a tighter Wi-Fi environment you’ll have clearer communication. And you’ll be able to interface to the same Telex BP-2002 wired beltpacks that we are using in the booth at the pro level.”
With the addition of the BTR-240 system, Cocallas says, Telex will be building on one of its core strengths, which is that it has the product range to find the right product for just about any budget and setting. “A lot of my job has to do with trying to come up with solutions,” he says. “Everybody has slightly different needs, and it’s sometimes tough to predict in advance which equipment will be just right in a given situation. Telex has such a nice array of lines to go to. So if there are issues with an existing situation, there is always a Telex solution that I can offer to address the customer’s needs.”
Cocallas also points to the “design, simplicity, and quality” of Telex intercoms as reasons why he continues to turn to the Telex line. “The Telex systems stand out for football on many levels, including the antenna design, ClearScan, the operating systems, and the beltpack design. And Telex headsets are far superior to other headsets, so much so that other companies buy them to sell with their own systems. They are clear, comfortable, and durable. Telex intercoms are just an all-around quality product."