How we evolve: Becoming the LTN technical operations center (TOC)

June 19, 2024

LTN is evolving. We always have and always will. If there is a way to create greater efficiencies, improve partner experiences, or explore yet-to-be-solved challenges in broadcast, media, or technology — we choose the path of innovation. That is the outlook and approach that every LTN team member takes. Rob Farmer, LTN Senior Director of Operations, shared his insights on LTN’s journey and the most recent evolution of our support offering, the LTN technical operations center (TOC).

While LTN has had a dedicated, talented, and media-workflow-fluent support team since the beginning, there are many ways in which we have grown. Having first joined LTN in 2013, Rob has seen and helped shape LTN Support through those phases of change and progress. His invaluable insight offers an insider’s perspective on the support experience you can expect from LTN.

The early days of LTN Support

Before the TOC, there was the NOC — the network operations center. The LTN Network, our core technology and the foundation we continue to build on, was the singular focus for our video transport offering in the early days. Rob was the fourth support engineer hired on a small but mighty team.

"Everyone was doing everything. You would be building equipment, answering a support call, and activating the service provisioning when that equipment arrived. [It was a] challenging but dynamic environment that set us up for getting to know our customers well," Rob said.

It was a period of rapid growth spurred on by the fact that LTN was doing something different in broadcast operations. “Today, everyone in the broadcast industry is not trying to figure out if they are moving to IP — it's how. LTN was one of the few service providers in the market saying, [IP] is the way of the future,” Rob said.

Supporting those partners that shared that LTN vision and building those relationships was crucial to moving the industry forward. It was that intimate exposure to the partner experience that informed our understanding. As Rob shared, “Those seconds matter. [We ask operators to] keep the partner impact in mind. [Many] folks on the team have been in the control room and know the high stakes and high-stress experience on the other end of the line. This is an event that took three days to set up, had crew members — all of these things going into it — and transmission is the final link for that video signal going out into the world that everyone has worked hard to air.”

And LTN Support operators only grew that hands-on experience when LTN expanded into live sports production. Managing the needs of production companies, sports venues, and broadcast partners, along with signal and transmission, required being proactive on another level. “[This] was the genesis of having an events-focused team,” Rob said. And it led to the broader implementation of a media operations team tuned into signal flows and video engineering adjacent to our network and technology support team — all leading to the development of the more robust LTN technical operations center.

LTN built. LTN managed. LTN supported.

As we grew, LTN developed more structure. The TOC multi-tiered architecture comprises customer support, new service provisioning, inventory, logistics, and advanced issue management to ensure we offer our partners the cohesive, end-to-end support experience that they’ve come to expect from LTN.

Whenever our partners have an issue or question, our support teams have the resources internally for any product or service solution in the LTN Ecosystem. Each of our support operators is prepared from onboarding to address broadcast operations issues in the ways that best suit partner needs. “Our customers don't call in and say my Arc is broken or my Lift isn’t working. They have their own terminology. They will reference a specific feed issue, a particular station or channel name, or whatever interfaces they're managing. [We train] operators to work with partners to establish a vocabulary, build internal tooling, and efficiently resolve the issue or determine the next step,” Rob said.

The LTN technical operations center builds the same familiarity and rapport as our support teams always have, but it does so in a way that works towards being an extension of customer operations. “We are very integrated into their environment and, over time, we learn and better understand what they need and want to accomplish,” Rob said. “While the relationship is about the technical service side of things, it’s also about maintaining those personal connections.”

Evolving with LTN

We aren’t focused only on the evolution of LTN solutions to support our partners but also our team members. LTN usually doesn’t hire support operators externally for the more specialized Tier 2. We hire nearly everyone first in a Tier 1 role to ensure each team member is well versed in and exposed to all aspects of LTN solutions and media operations workflows. With ongoing training, our approach ensures that customers always speak with an expert. And that doesn’t just apply to TOC. Support operations leaders, like Rob, host weekly training sessions open to LTN project managers and team members who aren’t in technical roles.

Rob’s path at LTN began in support before he moved into development engineering and backend operations. Then, he took the opportunity to get more broadcast experience. “I felt like I knew LTN, which was transport-focused at the time. So, I took a broadcast role for a major media network to not only see the other side but live it.” During that time, Rob also noticed growth and innovation at LTN. “[I] jumped at the opportunity to come back,” Rob said. “LTN was making big changes, moving toward providing an end-to-end experience.”

For LTN, that growth hasn't stopped. The LTN technical operations center supports interoperable solutions and workflows across customization, distribution, and customization. “We have over 10,000 touchpoints — a week doesn't go by without a challenge. That pushes you often to figure out how to do something that our team hasn't encountered before. And it’s rewarding when you see the results of your work on the air or streaming,” Rob said.

Improving broadcast operations with LTN Support

Our support teams continuously look for ways to better serve our partners and make their broadcast operations workflows run seamlessly. Even with the LTN Network's 99.999% reliability, there’s always room to improve. We manage the technology we build, and that comes with benefits beyond resourcing. It means we can evaluate and evolve. “If we have a chronic type of issue, how can we adjust and adapt? Is it a matter of improving documentation, or is this something where we give our colleagues in Product and Development real-world feedback on this component to explore? That’s a conversation that you can’t have with a third-party vendor,” Rob said.

Learn more about our industry-leading support — one of many reasons why LTN is the right partner for your media operations evolution.