Royal Opera House’s Deloitte Ignite 15 event provided a perfect application for Chatterbox’s innovative CALM IP two-way radio system, which delivered cost-effective, licence-free coverage of the site using the building’s existing Wi-Fi network.
Situated at the heart of London’s Covent Garden the Royal Opera House is home to two of the world’s great artistic companies – The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet. It seeks to be always accessible and engaging, to develop audiences across the UK and to break new ground in the presentation of lyric theatre.
In September 2015 Royal Opera House (ROH) staged a new initiative, Deloitte Ignite, a month-long festival of free events. Visitors were invited to ‘learn a chorus, make some props, try their hand (and arms and legs) at ballet and contemporary dance, see performances of everything from hula-hoop artistes to trolley-dancing tea ladies’ and to enjoy ‘mind-boggling performances on the Covent Garden piazza from a host of international street artists’.
The provision of a two-way radio system for the event presented two challenges:
Firstly, ROH specified a permanent two-way radio system, which would require a two-way radio licence, and Ofcom has reduced the number of two-way radio licences available in London.
Secondly, the historic theatre presents many dead spots where it is difficult to receive or transmit a radio signal, and the event required coverage across this and a second building with basement offices, linked by tunnel, plus the outside piazza area.
An Innovative, Cost Effective Solution
Having surveyed the site and discussed requirements with the client Chatterbox proposed CALM IP, its IP advanced radio system, which is an innovative new solution to the type of licence and coverage issues faced by ROH.
CALM IP utilises existing Wi-Fi networks, in this case the ROH’s Wi-Fi access points, to provide radio coverage within and between buildings. The access points on the ROH Wi-Fi network already provided total coverage so no further access points were required; Chatterbox simply supplied 25 Icom IP100H handsets with headsets for the event and installed two Icom IP1000C system controllers to monitor all radio activity. The ROH system used two 20-handset controllers ‘daisy-chained’ together to provide a system for the 25 handsets, with potential for a maximum of 40 handsets.
CALM IP requires minimal equipment, and is therefore quick to install. The radios, routers and access points it does require are extremely price competitive, and it does not need an Ofcom two-way radio licence. Everything combines to make CALM IP an effective, financially viable solution for short-term applications like Deloitte Ignite.
In this instance Chatterbox supplied the system on short-term hire but clients can purchase the system for longer-term requirements.
If a client has a Wi-Fi system in place CALM IP is an elegantly simple cost effective way of achieving effective radio coverage.”
Senior Account Manager, Chatterbox
“We were delighted that Chatterbox was able to provide a system on short-term hire to give us the coverage we needed. It was perfect for our regular but short-term requirement and has saved us investing in permanent infrastructure.”
Creative Producer, Royal Opera House
A New Approach
CALM IP is an innovative system and its implementation does require a new approach.
IT Department Buy-In
Because the system requires an IP/WLAN host close co-operation is required between Chatterbox engineers and the organisation’s IT department from the outset of the project.
The three initial questions most IT departments have are:
1. What impact does CALM IP have on the host system security?
There is no threat to the security of the host system as radio operators have no means of accessing it.
2. What impact does CALM IP have on the host system bandwidth?
The effect on available bandwidth of the IP host system is minimal, each radio uses 150kbps per transmission (300kbps for full duplex).
3. What are the system requirements?
The system can work with any IP protocol. It operates on either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz or both, switching automatically between the two depending on signal strength.
“The CALM IP radio system supplied by Chatterbox enabled us to use the ROH network as a solution to a potentially costly communications requirement with very little impact on the system itself.”
Network and Security Engineer, Royal Opera House
The Icom IP100H handsets, like most two-way radios, are simplex but they become duplex when a headset is added i.e. using them is like having a telephone conversation where communication is simultaneous as opposed to speaking alternately. In full duplex mode everyone on the channel can hear and join every communication. This mode does have applications but those operating the radios need to be made aware that discretion may sometimes be required. Chatterbox offers live and online training via YouTube videos on this and basic operating functions.
CALM IP is clearly different to a conventional two-way radio system and offers some very specific advantages however it is only as robust as its host IP system. Generally this is not an issue but it is obviously a consideration for critical communications where resilience is required.