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Wrangling RF in Times Square on New Year’s Eve

The ball dropped; the signal didn’t.

New York, NY (January 18, 2018)—New York City is hopelessly congested in the winter, regardless of whether you’re talking about traffic, the noses of millions of tourists or the RF spectrum that broadcasters, emergency services, Broadway and countless other stakeholders all have to share. All of that made December 31st in Times Square one of the most challenging nights of the year for Jetwave Wireless, which provided Wisycom RF equipment for ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve ’18 with Ryan Seacrest broadcast, watched by 25.6 million viewers in the U.S. alone, according to Nielsen.

Jim Dugan, frequency coordinator and president of Jetwave Wireless, has helped provide RF support for the event for ages. This year, along with a team of 15 wireless professionals from Jetwave, Dugan employed Wisycom MAT288 matrix combiners, MTK952 IFB transmitters and MFL RF over fiber links, to manage the extremely large coverage needs. “This was the second entirely Wisycom-supported show,” he said.

With over 500 active frequencies in total, Dugan executed a frequency sweep a week prior to the event, which was later used as the baseline for coordinating the allocated frequencies amongst the hosts and the broadcast media outlets. The production wireless still operated predominantly in the UHF spectrum, something that Dugan anticipates will begin to change after this year.

“Wisycom’s MFL RF over fiber links were setup all the way from 44th to 48th Street, with various antennas and designated MAT288 combiners at each of the five locations,” said Dugan. “The MAT gave us multiple, individually controlled receive antennas at each site that fed the RF back to a central MAT288 in the RF truck on 44th Street. On the transmit side using the Wisycom MTK952 IFB transmitters, its master-slave feature through fiber allowed us to distribute IFB through all these areas over the same strand of glass we used for receive and monitoring.

As a result, the Jetwave crew was able to monitor the entire grid and every antenna remotely to ensure the system was working properly. All the Wisycom RF distribution products deployed were on a network, which allowed them to monitor RF signals from many points around the event area. “We covered Times Square Studios, multiple rooms and hallways, as well as street coverage from 43rd to 48th Street,” said Dugan. “Something as simple as having everything networked feels like an incredible advancement from days of old where you had to physically get to a site to make an adjustment, which on NYE in Times Square can be difficult.”

Wisycom •