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CellCom Digital Wireless System Takes Center Stage at Houston's Alley Theatre


ALAMEDA, CALIFORNIA, NOVEMBER 11, 2009 - Clear-Com® Communication Systems, a Vitec Group brand, is right on cue when it comes to satisfying the complex communications requirements of the prestigious Alley Theatre in Houston, TX.  The theatre, which mounts numerous plays year-round on its two stages, counts on Clear-Com’s CellCom™ digital wireless intercom system to maintain easily accessible, reliable communications between crew members responsible for staging its shows.

The Alley Theatre, home to the 824-seat Hubbard and 310-seat Neuhaus stages, uses the CellCom system as the main method of communications for the entire backstage crew, from stage manager, to light and soundboard operators, to wardrobe and house managers.  Prior to CellCom, crew members used third-party beltpacks, but felt they needed a system that offered greater capability and would flawlessly integrate with their existing equipment.  They also needed it to have an operating range large enough to work throughout much of the building and flexible enough to handle the requirements of both of its stages.

According to Pierre Dupree, the sound supervisor for the Alley Theatre, the CellCom solution is miles ahead of its competition.

“The reception and sound are fantastic,” he says. “It’s much better than other wireless communication products; the sound comes through very clearly.  We also appreciate the ease with which we can recharge the beltpacks through the integrated charging stations or plug-in cords. It saves time and money and is great for the environment.”

CellCom’s flexibility and ease of programming is another big plus for Dupree and the Alley Theatre staff.  They can easily create partylines or reroute how the units interface with the wired unit quickly and efficiently through the CellCom software. Better yet, the system can grow with the theatre’s evolving needs. 

“We like that we’re not limited to only having 10 beltpacks - if we need more, we can add when needed and extend our coverage with antennas,” notes Dupree.

The Alley Theatre’s Clear-Com package centers on a CellCom base station with eight active antennas and 10 CellCom beltpacks. The eight antennas ensure coverage over most areas of both theatres, including backstage, in sound and other types of booths, as well as in the spaces between the theatres - a total area involving thousands of square feet of space and multiple floors. 

“CellCom was really the only viable, affordable approach to allow us 10 beltpacks that would operate in both of our performance spaces,” says Dupree. “That’s no small feat since the two spaces are in completely different parts of the complex.”

With new FCC regulations requiring most wireless users to shift away from frequencies in the 700 MHz band, the fact that CellCom uses the 1.9 GHz band is another investment in the future for the Alley Theatre.  As the 1.9 GHz band is far away from where most other wireless systems typically used in live production operate, it makes the system more reliable and less prone to reception issues.

“Clear-Com is considered the de facto standard in live performance intercom for theatres, because of our dedication to high-quality reception and reliability and our ability to integrate with our customers’ existing products,” says Bob Boster, Director of Sales, Americas and Asia Pacific at Clear-Com. “The Alley Theatre contributes so much to its community, and we’re delighted to help enhance the experience for its audiences.”