FOX Sports Reduces Pop-Up WAN Costs with LTE Connected to Portable Communication Kits
When FOX Sports delivers nationally televised TV programs to millions of viewers, not many people see what goes on behind the scenes. Staff members need pop-up access to information, web applications, and devices — all of which must stay connected to the corporate network.
To cost-effectively guarantee network access at every location they travel to, FOX Sports leverages portable communications cases that are always connected by Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service for pop-up networks, which includes cloud management of purpose-built routers featuring embedded LTE. The reliability and agility of this multi-WAN network solution give the FOX Sports IT team the peace of mind they need during live events.
FOX Sports is the umbrella entity representing 21st Century FOX’s wide array of multi-platform U.S.-based sports assets. Built with brands capable of reaching more than 100 million viewers in a single weekend, FOX Sports includes ownership and interests in linear television networks, digital and mobile programming, broadband platforms, multiple web sites, joint-venture businesses and several licensing partnerships. FOX Sports includes the sports television arm of the FOX Broadcasting Company; FS1, FS2; FOX Sports Regional Networks, their affiliated regional web sites and national programming; FOX Soccer Plus; FOX Deportes; and FOX College Sports. In addition, FOX Sports also encompasses FOX Sports Digital, which includes FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports app. Also included in the Group are FOX’s interests in joint-venture businesses Big Ten Network and BTN 2Go, as well as a licensing agreement that established the FOX Sports Radio Network.
The scope of FOX Sports’ popular TV shows and live events is vast, with millions of viewers consuming some of the most popular collegiate and professional sports events in the U.S. When a pregame or studio show goes on remote, the company’s IT team must travel to the location and set up a network that duplicates what is available on the home lot in Los Angeles.
To successfully produce a live show on location, FOX Sports needs instant and reliable access to sports statistics, as well as the ability to connect APs, VoIP, staff laptops, and other devices and applications.
“15-20 years ago, Internet connectivity at a remote site was not a necessity to have a successful show. Now it’s the first question I get when I walk into a TV broadcast compound: ‘When is the Internet coming up?’ ” said Raul Ramirez, director of IT broadcast operations for FOX Sports.
Usually the locations where they set up their shows are selected based on aesthetics and surrounding views, not infrastructure. In sites ranging from restaurants to empty lots, the IT team is at the mercy of the host facility’s connectivity service or whatever can be purchased from a local ISP. Both options are extremely expensive, especially given the volume of events the FOX Sports team participants in every year.
The FOX Sports IT team also must ensure reliable connectivity at off-site company meetings. These events often are held at hotel conference rooms where the Internet options are cost-prohibitive and often bandwidth as low as 10 Mbps.
FOX Sports needed a compact networking solution that could support either Ethernet-delivered broadband or high-bandwidth cellular connectivity, depending on factors related to coverage and cost in each location and situation.
The FOX Sports IT team found the right solution for its cellular pop-up networking needs. They deployed rugged portable communications cases — or networks-in-a-box — that include Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service for pop-up networks. The service includes WAN link termination and traffic management, a firewall, and cloud configuration and troubleshooting, all delivered via a purpose-built router with embedded LTE, 24x7 support, and a limited lifetime warranty.
This solution provides the agility needed to accommodate various WAN links through one device. Whether for a nationally televised live TV show or a small internal-only meeting, these easy-to-use, on-the-go communications cases and Cradlepoint routers give FOX Sports constant connectivity.
“This solution has addressed all of our networking needs,” Ramirez said.
INSTANT POP-UP NETWORKS AT SPECIAL EVENTS
When FOX Sports’ traveling crew arrives at major professionals sports events, they don’t have time to wait for cables to be provisioned and then plugged into their portable communication cases. To adequately prepare for a live pregame show, they need LTE-based network access as soon as they walk onto each site.
“When we show up at an event, it can take an entire day to bring up wired Internet. Now we just take the portable communication case, connected by Cradlepoint, and we are able to bring up the network while we continue unloading and setting up equipment," Ramirez said.
HIGHLY RELIABLE WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY FOR IMPORTANT APPLICATIONS
The excellent reliability and pervasiveness of LTE-based Internet access gives the FOX Sports IT team confidence that all the connected tools they need to executive a successful live show will remain connected before, during, and after the broadcast.
“It would be devastating for the Internet to go down during a live TV show. It’s extremely critical for our staff. Our portable communications cases and Cradlepoint routers deliver the always-on connectivity that is so essential for our team,” Ramirez said.
COST SAVINGS WITH WIRELESS WAN
Rather than paying exorbitant prices for wired WAN at hotels and other locales, FOX Sports leverages cost-effective LTE, which often is a mere fraction of the cost.
“We’ve been quoted up to $7,500 per day for a 10 Mbps wired connection at a hotel. With our Cradlepoint solution, we’ve saved a lot of money that we’d otherwise be paying to hotels and Internet service providers for a short-term Internet circuit,” Ramirez said.
REMOTE MANAGEMENT & TROUBLESHOOTING
As the company’s stockpile of portable communication kits grows, Fox Sports’ IT personnel can save money and man-hours by remotely monitoring and managing data usage and WAN uptime and performance through NetCloud Manager.