Reaching Afghanistan with Radio in a Box

IP audio codecs are being used as part of the US Army Radio in a Box (RIAB) project to broadcast to local people in Afghanistan, writes Kevin Hilton.
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IP audio codecs are being used as part of the US Army Radio in a Box (RIAB) project to broadcast to local people in Afghanistan, writes Kevin Hilton. American manufacturer Broadcast Electronics (BE) has built a portable studio and accompanying transmission network for the programme using more than 100 Digigram IQOYA*LINK processors. RIAB was created to allow Afghan broadcasters to reach audiences in remote part of the country using a studio set up on a US Army base. Locals are issued with clockwork radios so they can pick up programmes from one of 100 transmission sites. BE was contracted to supply equipment and bought Digigram IQOYA*LINK codecs as part of the stereo transmission network that uses IP over a satellite link. The studio output is encoded and then streamed in a multicast, with two return feeds decoded at the broadcast site. By using MPEG HE AACv2 56 Kb/s compression the IP audio can have a bandwidth of 300kb/s, which leaves room in the signal for control data as well as delivering good quality. The broadcast set-up is completed by a 1kW FM transmitter, a sound mixer and audio processor. BE's senior RF product manager, Tom Beck, comments, "One of the great things about this system is that there is a head-end site and this gives the broadcaster the opportunity to do things locally at any of the 100 sites and send that back to the main centre for redistribution of local content to all kinds of different locations. It's an exciting project and one we're very proud of." www.bdcast.comwww.digigram.com

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