Think Fibre Can’t Handle Extreme Temperatures? Think Again.

Fiber InstallationIn the world of broadcasting, we generally think of two different environments:

The indoor studio with sets and control rooms and the outside location where actual sporting and other events take place.

Inside the broadcasting studio, fibre is used to connect broadcasting equipment such as cameras, storage equipment, editing appliances and playout devices.

While there are always concerns in the studio about fibre being subjected to flexing, twisting and abrasion as it is coiled up on the floor, handled by multiple users or dragged across the studio from one filming area to the next, today’s heavy-duty rugged fibre optic cable is specifically designed to withstand these environments. And when it comes to temperature, the studio is considered a controlled environment that normally stays in the 20˚C to 26 ˚C room temperature range. But happens when we move outside?

Outside broadcast vehicles can maintain ideal temperatures for cameral control units, but somehow the video feed needs to reliably get there from the camera. Depending on the location, that can mean that fibre optic cable is subjected to a variety of environmental factors, including UV radiation and extreme heat, humidity and moisture, high winds and extreme cold.

Factors to Consider

When it comes to selecting fibre for outdoor broadcasting environments, the moisture and UV resistance and operating temperature are very important features to consider, and they depend on the overall construction of the fibre cable.

For example, ice is one of fibre’s biggest enemies. When water turns to ice, it can exert enough pressure on a fibre cable to cause microbends that degrade the signal or even completely break the glass and lose the signal altogether. When fans are counting on watching every second of their favorite sporting event, a loss in signal caused by ice can mean millions of dollars lost. A watertight, dry construction for fibre is vital in preventing the formation of ice within the cable.

The jacket material is also important for preventing moisture ingress, as well as providing resistance to UV and abrasion. The most common jacketing materials include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PUR). Both materials are flexible and exhibit excellent properties, but one of the biggest differences is cost. There is a reason for that.  While PVC is suitable for some indoor applications, it does not offer abrasion or weather resistance. On the other hand, PUR offers superior abrasion and UV resistance, low-smoke no halogen capabilities and overall superior durability across a wider range of temperatures.

Case in Point

No one knows better about installing fibre in an extreme outside broadcasting environment than Radio and Television Slovakia (RTVS) who broadcasted the 2014 World Junior Alpine Skiing Championship from the slopes of the Low Tatras Mountains in Slovakia where the temperature averages -6 ˚C in January with snow cover reaching beyond 2 meters thick. The small village of Jasná that hosted the event is the location of Slovakia’s largest ski area and provided the ideal climate for world-class skiing.Alpine CS
To connect cameras and outside broadcasting (OB) vehicles in this environment of extreme cold temperature, RTVS demanded a heavy-duty, reliable fibre solution. That’s why they selected Belden heavy-duty SMPTE311M Hybrid Optical Fibre Cable with PUR jacketing and a rugged, watertight dry construction that is rated for temperatures as low as -30˚C, well below Jasná’s average coldest temperatures.
At the same time, the aggressive schedule to prepare for the event required fast installation and a trusted partner with the ability to ensure fast deliver of quality products. Belden had the quality, easy-to-install products and customer service to meet all of these needs.
Click here to ready the full case study and find out how the 2014 Alpine Junior World Ski Championships were reliably broadcast despite the cold, snowy conditions – a perfect example of fibre’s ability to handle extreme temperatures.

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