Meeting Topic: Exploring a Virtual Intercom System
Moderator Name: Jay Dill
Speaker Name: Hal Buttermore, Telos Alliance
Meeting Location: virtual (Zoom webinar)
The Central Indiana Section was joined by the Indianapolis section of the Society of Broadcast Engineers for a discussion of network-based intercom systems with Telos Alliance's Hal Buttermore. The program began with a discussion about the paradigm shift involved in moving away from an intercom system based on dedicated hardware with a solution based on off-the-shelf computer and network hardware. Such a system feels similar to traditional intercom systems, with a variety of belt pack, desktop, and racked communication stations with typical party-line and talk-group configurations while taking advantage of current network technology, including AES67 integration. This creates a system that is lower in cost, easily scalable, and with greater end-user configurability.
An additional benefit of this system architecture is the ability to use existing VoIP technology for relatively simple interconnection between remote facilities. Telos employs the open standard OPUS codec for network communication between facilities. This wide area network can link remote production crews, separate affiliate studios, or even remote personnel to a central facility utilizing the same group and party lines. Included in this functionality is a "lite" mode for use with even typical residential wireless Internet and cellular modems. This capability was particularly useful through the pandemic, allowing production personnel working from home to share a reliable, dedicated intercom system.
Hal also highlighted the user configurability of such a system. In Telos's Infinity intercom system, a simple drag-and-drop interface allows users to create party lines, talk groups, and direct connections within the system. A simple user interface allows receivers to be dropped into groups or party lines, or to create interruptible foldback (IFB) channels with near instant routing and availability. Finally, these routed groups, etc. can be dragged onto talk buttons for configuring belt packs, panels, or consoles as each user requires.
Finally, information was presented about Telos's VIP system, which fully removes the requirement for hardware, replacing it with a single, dedicated intercom server. This Internet-connected server can then accommodate up to 16 virtual control panel/belt pack systems run through typical browsers, allowing operating system-agnostic usability with a simple link and password access system for users. This, combined with optional cloud-hosted servers and licensing based on virtual intercom quantity, allows the system to become scalable as needed while maintaining lower overall cost.
The program concluded with Q&A, moderated by section chair Jay Dill. The complete webinar is available for viewing on the CIS YouTube page: https://youtu.be/TwT2dTBLDh8
Written By: Brett Leonard