6 IP Networking Terms You Need to Know for Live Production Today

NOC, LAN, POP, WAN, SDN…what does it all mean? Learn about the IP network terminology that connects remote production workflows and live broadcast.

IP Networks Connecting Live Productions

With the continued adoption of IP technology in our industry, the role of IP networks in live events, live broadcast, and connected production alike has become more prominent than ever. This is especially true as we see a continued increase in connected or REMI production workflows.  

But not all of us are IT experts, and the transition to IP means that there are some fundamental terms we need to get a handle on to keep up with what’s next in production technology. Keeping network capabilities in mind for your production will be vital for an efficient workflow now and into the future. Here are a few of the basic networking terms that you need to know.

1. What is a NOC?  

Network Operations Center

The definition of a Network Operations Center (NOC), which most people are at least vaguely familiar with, is a centralized location where computer, telecommunications or satellite network systems are monitored and managed. In the realm of production, a NOC is the home base for managing and monitoring your entire broadcast network. The NOC is the hub for all video, audio and data signals across the network, and serves as the “traffic control” center, where network engineers can ensure everything is coming and going as it should. In general, the role of the NOC is to provide monitoring and full visibility of the entire production ecosystem.

At NEP, our patent-pending TFC software platform powers our network management; providing visibility, control, and monitoring in the NOC – as well as inside of our facilities and across our whole connected network.

2. What is a LAN?  

Local Area Network  

The simplest definition of a network is “connection.” That said, the definition of a local area network is pretty intuitive a LAN is a collection of devices connected within a limited area. Common examples of LANs are the local Wi-Fi networks in a coffee shop, on a campus, or in an office building. In live broadcast, this can look like the network within an OB truck, a datacenter, or a production hub. Essentially, a LAN connects the equipment within a single production facility.  

Generally speaking, there are two types of LANs: client/server LANs and peer-to-peer LANs. In live production, we use the former to move large amounts of incoming data (through live ingest, for example) to a local server, which can then move that data to a faraway database. For live event production in a venue, we can also use peer-to-peer networking—computers connected directly to each other without an intermediary server—for data, intercom, video, and audio (DIVA) connectivity with TFC Flow.

3. What is a Backbone Network?

A backbone network is a type of IP network optimized for high-capacity connectivity as part of a LAN. Think of an actual backbone: it props up your entire body and serves as the freeway for your nervous system sending signals to and from your brain. But what does that mean in the context of production?

The need for a backbone network in live production is two-fold —broadcast-ready video feeds are huge, and so is the need for speed. So, for live production, a backbone network is designed to accommodate large amounts of data moving at the fastest speeds possible. Backbone networks make it possible for private cloud facilities like NEP’s Dallas datacenter to store and ingest live feeds as soon as they happen. The benefits of a private backbone network are multifold: more control, better monitoring, and guaranteed security.

4. What is a WAN?  

Wide Area Network

In contrast to the LAN, a wide area network is usually made up of a group of LANs connected by routers. Each router is assigned a unique IP address to determine where to forward the data traveling between LANs.  

In our production world, we create a separate network, a WAN, to manage connectivity between facilities, and their individual LAN networks, via dark fiber. These WAN networks can span between cities, and even continents, creating one unified production ecosystem.

5. What is SDN?  

Software Defined Networking

So, what is SDN? Simply put, an SDN is a software control plane that allows you to configure, manage and control network infrastructure. The “software” part of SDN is key here—SDN uses virtualized tools to develop architectures that orchestrate media sources to the appropriate destinations. To translate this into production terms, SDN makes sure that media gets where it needs to go as quickly as possible with the highest quality possible, in whatever format it needs to be for a variety of broadcast methods: television, satellite, or streaming.  We can see the power of SDN and WAN working in tandem with TFC Link, our proprietary SDN tool that uses point-to-point technology to manage networks between connected facilities. TFC Link allows us to not only manage our networks elegantly, but it also includes automated network configuration tools; real-time network optimization and flow prioritization; as well as robust monitoring and alarming – diving the ultimate networking tool for speed, efficiency, and security.

6. What is PoP?

Point of Presence

Last but not least, point of presence refers to the local access point for an ISP (Internet Service Provider). In short, it’s the way that anything from a LAN or WAN can access the wider Internet, and vice versa. PoP in live production becomes important not only for connectivity, but for services including distribution and OTT (streaming). Essentially, PoPs are key to content getting where it needs to go.  

What’s Next?

As you can see, each of these networking terms are…well…connected! Understanding what they mean in the context of live production is just one way to imagine the future of connected production workflows. By keeping up with the most cutting-edge technology, NEP invests in the future of storytelling for creatives, networks, rights holders, and viewers around the world every day. If you want to learn more about how IP can help your production, live broadcast, or live event, our experts would love to speak with you.

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