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Inside the Tier 4 Teleport (Part 1)

Posted By Robert Bell, Thursday, August 30, 2018

We go through life protected by rules and procedures that are mostly invisible to us. Your airplane flight is safe because of a mass of rules and procedures governing every aspect of the journey. Your food is safe because producers must be certified as meeting certain standards. The same kind of certifications protect the (legal) drugs you take.

The digital world we all inhabit is likewise protected by the certification of data centers as meeting standards for robust operation. The business of broadcast is standards-based and much of its technology is certified for quality. But it was not until 2014 that there existed a set of standards and certification for a key part of the broadcast value chain: the teleport. That facility and set of technologies that connect ground-based content to the contribution and distribution networks in the sky. 

One Out of Five

In that year, the World Teleport Association began certifying the facilities and operating procedures of teleports. Certification provided the first objective and transparent way for teleport operators to validate the quality of their operations, and for customers to choose vendors that offer the right price-performance level for their needs.

Teleport certification is based on an in-depth questionnaire created by a Standards Committee of teleport and satellite executives. It covers business continuity, transmission systems, network operations, safety and security. Questions explore how the teleport manages capacity, maintains service levels, ensures security and oversees changes. Full Certification includes a site inspection by a WTA auditor, who also issues a report suggesting ways to improve operations. The end result is certification at one of four quality levels, from Tier 1 at the bottom to Tier 4 at the top.

What does it take to become a Tier 4 teleport? It is not meant to be easy – and it isn't. Only one out of every five teleports certified by WTA achieves the coveted Tier 4 level. Tier 4 teleports are designed and maintained with remarkable attention to all the factors that ensure high availability and resilience in the face of problems.

More Than Satellite

Certification for teleports is especially important at a time when they have become so much more than uplink sites. Teleports that serve the media and entertainment business are data centers and content hubs. They ingest content, format it, schedule it and play it out. They protect it. They feed it not just to the sky but to content distribution networks that drive the OTT business. They have become experts at overcoming the technical and operational problems that can stand in the way of OTT monetization. Their value to media and entertainment grows by the year, and certification provides their customers with the assurance that they can give high-value content the treatment it deserves.

What does that assurance look like? More in our next installment. Or visit www.worldteleport.org/certification for details. 

Tags:  certification  tier 4 

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