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Riedel Communications Rolls Out IP Network For Rock am Ring's Mendig Debut

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Germany's annual and concurrent Rock am Ring (Rock at the Ring) and Rock im Park (Rock in the Park) are together considered to be among the world's largest music festivals. By Lutz Rathman, Deputy Head Global Events, Riedel Communications.

During this year's rock music event, held June 5-7, well-known and up-and-coming artists performed both at Rock am Ring at Mendig Air Base and at Rock im Park at the Zeppelinfield in Nuremberg. Event headliners including the Foo Fighters, Slipknot, and German punk legend Die Toten Hosen played to huge crowds. An estimated 90,000 fans attended the Rock am Ring festival, and another 75,000 attended Rock im Park.

The 2015 event marked the 30th anniversary of Rock am Ring and the 20th anniversary of Rock im Park, as well as the first time Rock am Ring was held at the Mendig Air Base. Rock am Ring takes its name from its former venue, the Nürburgring motorsports complex near Nürburg, which was home to the event from its inception in 1985 through to 2014 — with the exception of a couple of hiatus years. In 2015 the event shifted to a new venue, the Mendig Air Base, and with this shift came new challenges and demands.

Given the lack of even basic physical infrastructure, the organizers' requirements included an extensive, flexible, and rugged yet cost-effective IP network that could support smooth communications — from production to security — and to enable closed circuit television (CCTV) coverage from main stages, even in the most extreme weather conditions. The network supporting Rock am Ring 2015 was designed, delivered, and installed by Wuppertal-based Riedel Communications and Frankfurt-based Riedel Networks, known for providing network technology for highly discerning customers responsible for producing some of the world's most prestigious events.

For Rock am Ring in Mendig, Riedel Communications set up IP network technology for the entire event area, so that all trades, authorities, organizers, and event staff could maintain continual access to communications and the Internet as needed. Deployed across the infield and stage, the camping area, approach roads, air control tower used for security, building housing police, media lounges, VIP area, and organizing committee offices, the fiber network — including Riedel Communications' MediorNet real-time media network frames — was complemented by radio links that ensured coverage across the entire campground.

A VSAT connection was incorporated into the network design to provide redundant Internet access and VOIP services for security, crowd control, emergency services, firefighters, sanitation, and other authorities. Internet access supplied by Riedel Networks, Frankfurt, was a 1-GB line, full-feed duplex system, configured to provide a dozen VLANs on the same structure. Specific capacity was dedicated to authorities and organizers, and the rest of the system bandwidth was distributed across other users. The Riedel IP network was also used for an outdoor wifi installation for 500 VIP guests of the "Camping Experience" with its own management and voucher system.

The IP network also supported the transport of 25 camera feeds to the control tower and police building for monitoring, and to the SWR broadcast production unit, which in turn fed video to the organizers' offices and to projectors and displays within VIP and sponsor lounges. A MediorNet core formed a ring around the infield and provided the connections linking audio and video signals from the two stages to the SWR TV and Radio production unit as well as the program broadcast feeds back to the media lounges and VIP areas. The same feeds where also encoded to an IP stream, enabling easy playouts in the production offices.

Overall, the installation included more than 16 kilometers of glass fiber, 60 switches, 600 CAT6 patch cables, and 150 VoIP telephones with a merged emergency call function. From the switch, Riedel Communications created subnetworks for different user groups, with patches covering short distances. Eight Riedel Communications engineers were on site to install and maintain the network, and German VoIP specialist toplink GmbH also supported the network.

Throughout Rock am Ring, the IP network supplied by Riedel Networks performed just as planned. The system facilitated seamless communications for event organizers and authorities, enabled the display video of the bands on display screens across the Mendig site, and simplified the display and communication of critical information to guests, as was the case when severe weather rolled through during the event. With the help of the IP network supplied by Riedel Communications, Rock am Ring made its first Mendig event a weekend to remember.

This article is also available to read at BFV online.

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