Berne, 09 April 2018
For the first time ever, Swisscom will bring the legendary Patrouille des Glaciers (PDG) to living rooms across Switzerland: The PDG will be broadcast live via Swisscom TV on the Teleclub free TV sports channels Teleclub Zoom and Sports Flash, as well as on Canal9. Another novelty is that Teleclub is working together with a private channel. Teleclub Deputy Sports TV Director and PDG project lead Alain Rohrbach says, “We are looking forward to gripping live coverage of this unique event. In order to provide our viewers with an up-close experience of our voyage across the Alps, we’ll also be taking part with our own patrol.” More than 40 journalists and technicians will be on hand to provide viewers with spectacular images from the mountains. It will also be a feast for the eyes of people who are less interested in sport.
The completely newly developed “Swisscom Patrouille des Glaciers” app will send fans’ hearts aflutter, offering live tracking, live footage, including of the night-time leg from the Rosa Blanche at 3160m, and 360-degree images from along the course. The app is available free of charge from the App Store and Play Store.
In 2018, in addition to the tried-and-tied mobile telecommunication and company radio networks, there will also be a low-power network (LPN) in operation in the Alpine terrain. The LPN is a dedicated network for the Internet of Things and combines a tremendous reach, energy-saving transmission and a comparatively easy network setup. It now covers 95% of the population. The LPN enables patrols to be followed seamlessly using what are known as trackers, for safety reasons and for live tracking on both the Web and the app. The Swisscom Broadcast team has left nothing to chance. Joachim Ernst, the LPN PDG project manager at Swisscom Broadcast, explains: “We deep-froze the trackers in the lab to simulate the extreme weather conditions during the PDG.” All the equipment has to be able to withstand the tough high Alpine conditions. “We were obliged to find and employ trackers that can cope with very low temperatures,” Ernst says. The tests showed that trackers fitted with rechargeable batteries are unsuitable because they lose power too quickly.
It's hardly surprising that the Patrouille des Glaciers is known as the world’s toughest ski tour race. Participants spend months preparing for it and need enormous stamina and discipline. This also applies to everyone else who takes part, especially the employees of Swisscom, which has set up its own temporary 2G and 4G networks in the most unappealing high Alpine conditions at 3000 metres about sea level, networks for both its company radio and, as a complete novelty, a network for the Alpine Internet of Things.
In all, more than three tonnes of equipment – base stations, antennas, repeaters and other telecom equipment – will be transported up into the mountains. Reto Näf, the Swisscom employee responsible for network construction at the PDG high posts, says: “The thin air is physically demanding, while climbing up icy antenna masts is challenging. Snow, cold and damp all affect the sensitive equipment. To secure the antennas, we have to shovel through metres of snow.” During the race, another 30 Swisscom specialists at the technical headquarters in Sitten work around the clock to ensure everyone’s safety. But not everything can be planned for. In 2016, a Swisscom employee was forced to remain at his high Alpine technical post for a week after the end of the PDG for meteorological reasons.
The interactive map will be available free of charge for use and embedding together with the credit “PDG/Swisscom”. The map will be expanded continuously during the race. The tracking data will be updated every two minutes while the race is underway.
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From 7.30 a.m. to midday on 21 April on Teleclub Zoom (German-speaking Switzerland), Sports Flash (French-speaking Switzerland and Ticino) and Canal9.
The Patrouille des Glaciers is organised by the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) and takes place every two years. Swisscom has been providing innovative solutions for the safety of everyone involved – participants and spectators alike – since 2004, ensuring that the event can be followed live on television, online and on an app for the first time this year. The PDG was created during the Second World War to test the stamina and resilience of soldiers. It was banned in 1949 after a tragic accident which left three people dead. Nevertheless, the legend lived on, and the race was restarted in 1984 under the strictest possible safety precautions.