FiberLink: An Easy Win for Sports Venues


If you’re a fan of pro sports in the U.S., there’s a good chance you’ve seen FiberLink fiber optic transmission products at work. This is true not only because the FiberLink line has been around since 1997 — with major additions to the line over the years — but also because it has been deployed league-wide in football stadiums and hockey arenas, and at a whole lot of baseball fields too.

FiberLink got into football as part of instant replay systems in which fiber was used to carry video from OB trucks to coaches’ booths and to league officials’ review systems. Unlike most systems, the FiberLink 3350 SDI units chosen for this application support either multimode or single-mode fiber. This flexibility was valuable because it allowed the league to standardize on one device even though stadiums hadn’t standardized on fiber type. Another selling point for the 3350 was that its transmitter features a loop out and the receiver offers dual outputs that allow venues to feed signals downstream to other equipment. As a result, signals can be moved without the need for an additional device, such as a distribution amplifier.

Hundreds of Artel’s FiberLink units got into professional baseball when venues upgraded their big-screen signboards to SDI and needed a way to bring signals from the graphics generator to the big-screen. Fiber was an ideal solution for covering the distance, typically a stretch from just behind home plate to a booth out beyond center field. Because fiber is immune to issues caused by lightning, even a thunderstorm traveling through the area doesn’t threaten signal quality. More recently, baseball fields installed FiberLink 3370 units to transport video and remote control data between PTZ cameras installed in the dugout (great for quick in-game manager interviews) and the production booth. In some cases, a similar setup supported use of PTZ cameras in center field for a different view of the game.

In some baseball venues, Artel’s 7220 VGA-compatible units also were installed to bring advertising to concourse displays. The design of the 7220 supported a drop-and-repeat deployment that made it easy to take video from one computer source to displays around the full concourse.

Professional hockey adopted FiberLink to support digital signage throughout various arenas. Feeding live, low-latency video to concourse displays, the 7220-based solution allowed fans to grab a hot dog and drink without missing any of the action.

For soccer stadiums across the U.S., Artel’s FiberLink 4040 four-channel analog audio-over-fiber devices are deployed to support various types of announcements — game score, emergency alert, etc. — depending on the venue.

And then there are college sports. So many installations! Sometimes permanent and sometimes as part of a mobile flypack that can be moved to different venues as needed. Schools of every size — yes, high schools too — can take advantage of existing fiber infrastructure to move video and audio. And when they don’t have those links, many use FiberLink 3514 units with CWDM multiplexing capabilities to mux four HD signals onto a single fiber strand and move it to a central production area. Using the 4160 or 4320, they can likewise squeeze a ton of audio signals onto fewer fiber strands. In doing so, colleges and universities can significantly reduce the costs associated with renting fiber.

When a mobile production unit rolls up to a sports venue, it’s often the FiberLink 3350 or 3514 bringing HD signals into the truck. In fact, a variety of FiberLink units have recently been deployed across stadiums in Latin America to bring confidence monitoring feeds back to OB trucks.

Many of these examples explain how FiberLink got its start in various sports. Thanks to the product line’s exceptional reliability and dependable performance, and its evolution to address new formats and protocols, FiberLink continues to be deployed across professional sports to enable low-latency delivery of high-quality audio and video.

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