While you’re cheering for your favorite team on Super Bowl® Sunday, behind-the-scenes Game Day Coordinators (GDC) are ensuring radio communications are crisp and clear without interference. Approximately 10,000 land mobile radios are used by television, security and event management to coordinate the biggest football playoff of the year. The radios use up to 4,000 frequencies, therefore coordination is a major concern. Weeks before the big game, GDCs start their coordinating efforts by notifying potential radio frequency (RF) users such as NFL licensees and news agencies. They use a software and database application to map the frequency ranges and allocate the microphone channels for each device.
On game day, each RF device that is brought into the stadium must be tagged and assigned a scheduled frequency. Due to the volume of radio devices to be checked, GDCs enlist the help of local amateur radio operators since they are familiar with operating RF equipment. As many as 15 frequency coordinators are on site before, during and after the game.
There are signs and warnings that all radio equipment must be checked in and coordinated by the GDCs. If operators do not abide by the rules, severe penalties are invoked such as removal of equipment during and after the game. Sometimes during games, rogue signals have been discovered that interfere with the critical communications of television crews. Using direction finding equipment, the GDCs can track down the source to alert them to shut down the unauthorized radio unit.
Twenty years ago when the National Football League started RF coordination, users were reluctant to abide by the rules. But today, they expect their devices to work clearly and reliably without interference from other wireless devices such as microphones, monitors, controllers, digital cameras and two-way radios. A pre-cleared RF device is not only a win-win for the teams but for the fans who expect to experience a glitch-free, live competitive event.
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