By Helen Weedon, Communications Manager, the Satellite Interference Reduction Group, and PR Consultant, Radical Moves PR.
Hopefully you will be aware of the survey carried out in the run up to IBC by Newtec and the Satellite Interference Reduction Group (IRG). The response was overwhelming with nearly 500 people giving their input and feedback on something the majority of respondents see as an important issue.
The results were really quite interesting, especially the finding that 93% of respondents suffer from satellite interference. The free info session at IBC asked "Are You Ready to Turn CID on?" as well as giving the audience the key findings, a panel of experts discussed both the issues and suggested solutions.
Are You Ready to Turn CID on?
Steven Soenens of Newtec kicked the panel off with an interesting background on satellite interference and how Carrier ID can greatly reduce the problem by helping operators to quickly and efficiently identify the source. According to Soenens, without CID, finding that source can take hours, or even days. He also touched on standards, citing that CID has been approved for standardisation by the DVB, as well as receiving both ETSI and FCC approval.
Where We Are Going
Martin Coleman, Executive Director, of IRG, said that we need to now join the dots from where we have got to, to where we are going. He commented that we are past the moment of discussing CID, now it is about implementation! As an example, he announced that all Ericsson systems from today will be DVB-CID ready. That is another significant milestone and, again, will help CID make a real impact.
To understand why it is needed, Chris Grogan from SES put it all into perspective: “We typically have 2-3 interference events per day.” That said he went on to clarify that interference in general only affects 1-2% of the total bandwidth available. Despite it being a small proportion, it can have a significant impact on satellite services and takes time and resources to resolve. Chris feels strongly that CID will help, however he sees it as just one element, which needs to be coupled with amongst other things, better training and improved equipment quality. A view echoed by Intelsat’s Trevor Willoughby and Eutelsat’s Andreas Voigt.
Andreas Voigt also commented that those causing intentional interference will not have CID, but if everyone else does we can use CID to identify the positive elements too and thus ensure those operating are quickly helped to mitigate problems.
The survey asked about the important of standards. Interestingly 86% of respondents cited them as important or very important. The discussion turned to making those standards mandatory, however, the feeling amongst the panel was that we cannot simply mandate CID and expect the industry to be ready.
The WBU-ISOG has issued a number of resolutions, including the requirement to begin the process of turning CID on from 1st January 2015. Mandating implementation is however something that needs to happen in the future. Newtec’s Thomas Van den Driessche commented: “10% of carriers with ID is like having only 10% of cars with number plates.”
According to Crystal Solutions’ Roger Franklin the FCC is changing the rules to require CID on SNG transmissions. This certainly marks a step in the right direction.
What else needs to be done?
The panel had a number of suggestions of other initiatives, which will help reduce satellite interference running alongside CID implementation. For example, for EBU’s Marc le Grand it is all about maintenance – regular tests to ensure equipment is still working as it should be. David Hartshorn of GVF gave the audience a quick overview of GVF’s training and quality assurance programmes.
Chris Grogan of SES offered an interesting insight that in actual fact much of the satellite interference is caused by VSAT MF TDMA systems, however the engagement from those groups has so far been muted and it is an area for improvement. Thomas van den Driessche is chairing the VSAT working group for IRG and he is currently gathering statistics about VSAT interference to take to the industry and help find the root causes.
As always, cost is a big factor. When asked about EBU’s implementation, Marc le Grand cited cost as the biggest stumbling block. Martin Coleman said that it would be great if EBU could lead the way on required CID on all transmissions.
Indeed cost figures highly as a compelling reason NOT to implement CID amongst respondents. However, the equipment is already available, the users are for the most part already able to handle CID and the operators have their implementation plans in place to be ready, so really any cost should be minimal to the uplinker.
Guido Baraglia of Sat Corporation/Kratos argues that CID will help day-to-day operations and make the industry better, so in answer to the compelling reason not to implement, his comment was: “Why Not?”