Future System FAQs

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  • General New System Information
  • General Receiver Information Including Pricing
  • Receiver Roll-Out
  • Receiver Features & Integration
  • Receiver Technical Data

General New System Information

Are the ContentDepot systems redundant? What failure protections are there?

The ContentDepot systems are currently fully redundant and will remain so in the future. Redundancy is implemented end-to-end including:

  •     front-end servers supporting the ContentDepot portal
  •     database and file storage backing all content and scheduling information
  •     automation and audio routing system
  •     hot-standby audio delivery chains

In addition to local redundancy in Washington, D.C., a full disaster recovery (DR) site is in warm standby in Minnesota in the event that the D.C. site must go off air. All data is continuously replicated between the DC and Minnesota sites.

Most of the redundant systems support automatic failover when possible. Systems that are either not capable of automatic fail-over or need a human decision maker are monitored and controlled by our 24/7 NOC.

In addition to these existing capabilities, the future system will also support more robust audio encoder and delivery chain redundancy as well as more receiver tuning autonomy by storing and executing the schedule locally rather than the current head-end tuning model used in the current system.

What is the schedule for the Future System roll-out?  

Key dates on the roll-out schedule are shown in the table below. Please note that all dates are tentative and subject to change.
*Schedule has changed due to Covid-19.* 

March 2019 - November 2019 Head-End Build: Development of new NOC and Back-up NOC
July 2019 NPR Distribution Webinar - Future Systems Deep Dive: ContentDepot Broadcast Systems
August 2019 - December 2020 Station Beta Test: Receivers Shipped to Participating Stations to Perform Beta Tests
Fall 2019 NPR Distribution Webinar - Future Systems Deep Dive: New ATX XDS Receivers
September – October 2020 Receiver Rollout: New Units Shipped to All Satellite Interconnected Stations
September – December 2020 Installation of Receivers at Stations
January – February 2021 Dual Operations: Current and New Systems Running; Stations Responsible for Testing
February 27, 2021 Dual Ops Ends: PRSS is live on Future ATX system, Current IDC System Sunsets


General Receiver Information Including Pricing

What is the cost of an additional receiver?  

$3,175 plus $35 shipping per unit

Will stations still be expected to pay the extra fee for a third receiver at a backup site?

Please contact prssbusiness@npr.org or 202-513-2618 to place an order.  You can place your order at any time, however, we will not begin to ship receivers until the 4th quarter of 2020.

Do Receivers A and Receiver B need to be at the same location?

No. However, if they are located in different locations, there will be extra fees.  The two receivers must be in same location to avoid the extra fees.

Will the "two port" rule remain in place with the future system?

No, we are pleased to inform you that the "two port" rule will be phased out with the future system.

Will the future system change the way that files are sent over the satellite or the bandwidth made available for file transfers?

File delivery via satellite will be handled in a manner similar to the current system including how the files are exposed by cut ID and long name via a SMB network share.

Will PRSS alert stations if there are local receiver issues?   

PRSS will not notify stations of local or isolated receiver issues. However, having access to station receivers will enable PRSS to troubleshoot issues with station engineers when issues are escalated.

With the FCC trying to take the lower C Band frequencies for mobile, how concerned is NPR with its satellite distribution to the NPR affiliate stations?  The new receivers rolling out will have both C band and internet reception for the stations. Is this an effort to get off C Band?

The new receivers are tuned to our new transponder on Galaxy 16, transponder 23. It's on the same satellite and on the same polarity as our current transponder. This change moves us away from the frequencies that are being repurposed for 5G use.

Receiver Roll-Out

Do current Internet-only FTP stations qualify for receivers?

The short answer is no, because FTP Internet-only stations do not need receivers.

How and when can stations purchase additional receivers?

Please contact Earl Johnson at EJohnson@npr.org or 202-513-2613 to place an order.  You can place your order at any time, however, we will not begin to ship receivers until the 4th quarter of 2020.

What is the protocol if the receivers require service?

Please contact the Help Desk at 800.971.7677 or prsshelp@npr.org.  We will be happy to help resolve your issue.

Will splitters be provided to connect additional receivers?

No, we are not planning to provide splitters to connect the new receivers.


Receiver Features & Integration

Should stations plan to retire their existing automation servers?

No. The automation features of the future system will not be available for some time. Our immediate focus is transitioning the stations to the ATX system as smoothly as possible.

Future automation features may include the delay and prioritization of live programming, file playout, and spot insertion. These are current features of the ATX system that will need to be integrated with ContentDepot and thoroughly tested.

Will the audio and relay outputs in the new receivers be the same as the current setup?

We are providing an adaptor in the box with the receivers that is backward-compatible with the legacy receiver pinouts.  There will be no charge for the adaptor.  Refer to the back of the Quick Start Guide for the ATX receiver pinouts.

How do I configure a primary and backup receiver with broadcast services in the future system?

Broadcast services serve as the middleman between subscriptions and receivers. Stations can have multiple destinations assigned to a broadcast service and can move these destinations around as desired without needing to subscribe or unsubscribe from programming. This provides more flexibility when a receiver needs to be replaced and, more importantly, makes creating a backup receiver extremely simple.

To create a primary and backup receiver for all subscriptions on a broadcast service, a station would simply add two receivers/ports as broadcast service destinations. The content will then be delivered to both receivers and any subscription modifications will apply to both receivers automatically.

Similarly, as the future system ATX receivers arrive, a station can simply add the receivers to their existing broadcast services alongside their current IDC receivers. The new receivers will immediately start receiving the same content, live and file, without having to modify any subscriptions or schedule information.

More information about broadcast services, including training documentation and videos are at this link:  https://contentdepot.prss.org/portalui/onboarding/index.html

Can playback on a program overlap the recording of the same program?

The receiver will be capable of both playing a live stream program on an audio port while simultaneously recording it for future playback. For example, a station should be able to can play program “Best Show Ever” while the receiver is recording it for a later playback and rebroadcast. This functionality is still in development and testing and the implementation may change before the feature is released for general use.

Will it be possible to populate the receivers with local content?  (Such as backup receiver at a transmitter site, loss of STL, ability to populate the receiver with local breaks/IDs)?

No, it will not be possible to populate local content at this time, however, we do have this feature on our future ContentDepot roadmap.  Separately, we are researching the possibility of using evergreen content to fill a loss of signal.  

Will it be possible to time-shift with the ATX receiver?  For example, Live from Here is live from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.  Will the receiver be able to record and playback Live from Here from 8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M.?

No, this feature will not be available when we launch, however, we do have this feature on our future ContentDepot roadmap.  

Are any changes planned relative to the availability of LWSF files?  

The current business rule is that LWSF shows are available after 2 hours.

Do the receivers fall back to internet streams if satellite reception is lost?  

Yes, when the receivers lose lock to the satellite downlink, the receiver will transfer to IP Internet streaming.

Can a station elect to receive programming only via internet streams?  Or use one receiver at a remote location via IP and one at the main facility via a satellite dish?  

Internet streaming on the receiver is intended as a back-up to a loss of satellite downlink or can be used during scheduled maintenance.  Internet streaming is not intended as a full time service.

Will the current mp3 emergency web streaming still be an option?  

How does terrestrial streaming work with the receivers?

During normal operation if a loss of carrier happens, the receiver begins buffering web streams and then connects to the streams which also carry tuning and cues that are offset with the audio. During the time the receiver is streaming it will also monitor for a carrier. When the carrier returns, it will automatically rejoin the satellite signal and cease internet streaming.

A station also can force a receiver into terrestrial streaming if it needs to do planned maintenance to its dish.

What will the station need to do when the new receivers arrive?

Stations will need to install them promptly but they should not put the audio or files on-air until dual operations begins.  Please follow the steps on the Quick Start Guide that came with the receivers.

Will the receiver audio ports be mirrored?  

A station may set up the ports however it likes. If a station would like to mirror the receivers to have a backup of the content, it can do so OR it can choose to have different content on all of its receiver's ports.

More information about setting up broadcast services, including training documentation and videos are at this link:  https://contentdepot.prss.org/portalui/onboarding/index.html


Receiver Technical Data

How much delay, if any, do you anticipate between the internet and downlink streams?

We anticipate approximately 10-20 seconds. We are also working on a way for stations to configure their receiver delays separately. 

What is the receiver audio connector type?

All connectors for the analog and AES outputs are DB9 plugs (with pins) on the chassis. Please note that the pinouts are different from the legacy receivers, you can use the included adaptors to mimic the legacy 4104 pinouts.

What encoding format will the live audio be?

The encoding format will be MP2 at 256kbps per stream.

How many receivers will each station get?

We are providing each interconnected station with two receivers.  Remember, PRSS needs to receive a station's signed Interconnection Equipment and Services Agreement before it can send receivers to the station.

How will Squawk work with the new system?

Squawk is currently available as a 24-hour program, NPR Squawk, in ContentDepot. Stations can subscribe to that program and assign it to any available receiver port. Squawk is also available from the NPR web stream at https://npr.org/squawk

 The current feed of Squawk on the SR2000 receivers is not migrating to the new transponder and will be sunset sometime in the Spring of 2021.

What audio outputs (formats) will be used?

The receivers output Analog, AES, and AoIP (Livewire or AES67) simultaneously. The AES output can run at a different sample rate than what is being used for Livewire or AES67.

What information do you have about Ethernet/Internet connections?

There will be three ethernet ports, with the 3rd port being the only one that can provide Livewire or AES67. All ports provide all other services and all ports should be kept behind a firewall that allows standard access to port 80 and 443.

What are broadcast services and how do they affect how I subscribe to content?

A broadcast service represents a radio station’s scheduled programming, intended for air to their listeners.  A station may have multiple broadcast services, such as one with a news & talk format and one with a classical format. In ContentDepot, broadcast services are a new way of thinking about how stations subscribe to programs, receive episodes, and schedule content for playback and listener consumption.

Broadcast services will serve as the broker/middleman between subscriptions and receivers.  You can have multiple destinations assigned to a broadcast service and you can move these destinations around as you wish without needing to subscribe or unsubscribe from programming.

Broadcast services also lay the groundwork for features on our future roadmap including schedule prioritization and delayed playback. These features, which we anticipate to roll out some time after the future system is live, will allow stations to reduce receiver port usage and perform more automation activities directly in the receiver. This functionality is still in development and testing, and the implementation may change before the feature is released for general use.

More information about setting up broadcast services, including training documentation and videos are at this link:  https://contentdepot.prss.org/portalui/onboarding/index.html

How will the future system handle files, SMB share, and file structure?

The receivers will automatically request files via the Internet which should require less manual retrieval work by stations via Content Depot. The receiver has an SMB mount very similar to legacy receivers, there is an extra directory level and a different name for the root drive. Refer to the Quick Start Guide for more details.

Will there be an ice or snow alarm?

There is an alarm if the signal level goes below a threshold. The threshold for the alarm can be set on the Setup page of the web GUI. The alarm will output via the email (if SMTP is setup on the receiver) and/or it can pulse the Alarm summary relay.

Will the receivers continue to act as NTP servers?

Because receivers can switch to streaming backup and because there are occasions PRSS will need to operate from the St. Paul BUNOC, using receiver NTP may not be the best choice for automation systems. Since different audio sources may have different delays, PRSS recommends using a cue model for all programs.

What SNMP/Email alerts will be available?

The alarms are listed on the Setup page of the web GUI when you click the Alarm Mask link.

ATX Alarm Mask Edit Screenshot

Is this a special receiver designed specifically for PRSS?

No it is not.  We worked with ATX to enhance its latest release model, the Pro4S.  Please keep in mind that we will not authorize receivers that a station acquires elsewhere (a merged or acquired commercial station, eBay, etc.)

What are the Technical Specifications for the ATX Pro4S Receivers

Physical Details   2 RU 19” Wide x 10.75” Deep x 3.5” High 
Rear fan, side panel vents, IEC power cable and separate grounding lug
Front panel display, controls, speaker, and headphone jack 
1 terabyte SSD hard drive
RF 2 “F” connectors for L-Band input but we only intend to use the RF - 1 connector
Signal level alarm that can output several ways with a user controlled threshold
LNB power (20V 500mA) available and switchable via front panel or GUI
Analog Audio 4 DB9 Males on rear of receiver, 1 DB9 per Analog Audio Port with Left and Right outputs
Different pinout from IDC receivers – an adaptor that matches IDC pinouts is included in the box
AES3 Audio 1 DB9M on rear of receiver, 4 AES3 Audio Ports on one connector 
Different pinout from IDC receivers – an adaptor that matches IDC pinouts is included in the box
Livewire / AES67 Audio Choice of Livewire OR AES67 (the receiver has a checkbox to toggle between them)
Active at the same time as other audio outputs
Station can change the Livewire mnemonics and channel numbers
Livewire GPIO available at the same time as physical relays
GPIO There are 32 relays on the box, we plan to reserve 16 of them for program cueing
We will provide a mimic adaptor that will convert the ATX DB37 connector to 4 DB15’s that match the IDC pinouts
Livewire GPIO will be available and active at the same time as physical relays in case a station needs to use both
We will provide the relay assignments and pinouts soon, it is still under design
Ethernet 3 Ethernet ports with 1 dedicated to Livewire/AES67
All Ethernet ports need to be behind firewalls, but at least one needs a gateway to the internet
The receiver can act as an NTP server sync’d to our headend
All ports will have access to the WebGUI, SNMP, SMTP, and the network drive for file show access
Terrestrial Streaming The receivers will automatically fallback to web streams that include embedded relays and tuning data
An alarm will be available to signal that the audio is from streaming and is delayed from the clock
After a 5 second confirmation that the RF has failed a buffer will start and then audio will output the same ports
Default buffer time will be somewhere between 10 and 40 seconds, but it can be set independently per receiver
If we use full resolution streams (256kbps each) the payload for each receiver would be around 1.25 – 1.5 Mbps
Terrestrial streaming can be disabled per receiver for sites with low bandwidth internet connections
Stations can force a receiver into terrestrial streaming if it needs to do planned maintenance to its dish
The receiver will return to the satellite signal after it stabilizes. We are researching if we can delay that return to a break or top of the hour.
File Delivery The plan is to have the ATX act as a network drive and provide the files just as the IDC receiver does
A station should just have to modify the drive mapping on the ingest machine and possibly in the ingest software