In April 2011, The Switch announced an aggressive network expansion plan to scale its current network from six cities to 50 cities. When it first conceived the plan of launching 44 additional cities, aligning the launch plan with the core value of The Switch — delivering quality service — was the priority of the project. After soliciting request for proposals for a network mesh solution from the major fiber transmission carriers in North America, AT&T was selected as an extension of a currently established relationship built upon a multiyear agreement allowing The Switch to offer AT&T HD-SDI circuits.
The next step was to evaluate the providers of long-haul fiber mux/demux equipment. Ultimately, Net Insight's Nimbra solution was selected because of both its reputation and ability to transport any video format — including uncompressed 3G, uncompressed HD-SDI, compressed HD (JPEG2000) and 270Mb/s SDI. Additionally, Miranda Technologies was chosen to supply 3G video routing switchers and a centralized control solution (iControl), providing automated video router switching capability across a network of video routers, each capable of signals up to 3G.
In phase one of the expansion, the new fiber network uses 20 NVISION 8500 Hybrid routers to connect each of the new switching facilities. The system design and integration was performed by Beck Associates.
The next challenge was to incorporate elements that would allow for enhanced network automation. For resource allocation management and scheduling, The Switch contracted with ScheduALL, utilizing its ScheduLINK system. The ScheduAll system, in tandem with Net Insight's Nimbra Vision and Miranda's iControl, allows customers of The Switch the ability to book any media resources needed for transmission configuration, as well as the scheduling and management of both occasional use fiber circuits and bandwidth.
To monitor the network, The Switch uses Skyline DataMiner, an extremely sophisticated SNMP fault reporting system with SLA correction. The system allows The Switch to monitor each of its locations from its newly expanded, state-of-the-art, network operations center in New York City.
To date, 15 cities have recently become operational as of November 2011. The Switch is continuing to roll out the additional 29 locations in three phases, with five additional U.S. locations in 2011, and 24 additional locations in Canada and other top media markets of the U.S. in 2012.
The Switch also has invested in upgrades to its customer controlled user interface, with plans to launch a next-generation Web-enabled customer control system to be deployed on users' touch screens. Currently in the works, the system will offer customers the choice of "Switch Now" or scheduled transmissions via its ScheduLINK system. In New York, The Switch has installed two Alchemist Ph.C-HD motion-compensated high-definition standards converters from Snell, enabling The Switch to provide standards conversion in HD and SD formats as well as up, down and crossconversion. The network expansion will position The Switch as the largest provider of customer controlled video fiber switching and transmission in North America.