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IRG Executive Says Interference Battle has “Long Way to Go”

By Mark Holmes | October 3, 2013

[Via Satellite 10-03-13] The Satellite Interference Reduction Group (IRG) will use its annual conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil later this month as a call to arms for the industry to not rest on its laurels despite the success of Carrier ID efforts at the London 2012 Olympics. With Brazil set to host two major sporting events (the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics) in the next three years, the eyes of the broadcast world will be upon them.

“Latin America is an important region right now for this subject and there are a few major issues which we will be looking to address in Rio, such as piracy of pay-TV,” Martin Coleman, executive director, IRD told Via Satellite during an exclusive interview. “We will also be looking at the regulatory environment and spectrum issues, specifically asking how we can protect C-band satellite use in Brazil.”

Certainly, the IRG was boosted by the events surrounding London 2012 with 50 percent of carriers using Carrier ID, and Coleman describing interference as “minimal”. However, while the industry is rightly proud of these efforts, he admitted there is still more work to be done.

“The recent survey we conducted with Newtec ahead of IBC showed that 93 percent of respondents suffer satellite interference, however the reassuring part was that 6 percent have already implemented Carrier ID. That may seem a small number, but it is more than I was expecting and it shows the start of something,” Coleman said. “A further 10 percent say they will be implementing within 6 months and another 18 percent within one year. That gives us 34 percent will be implemented by this time next year. The majority however does not know their time schedule, which goes to show further education is still needed.”

Coleman expects Brazil to be in an “even better position” regarding Carrier ID, as a result of developments since London 2012. “We now have DVB-CID (Carrier ID), which doesn’t need to interrupt the feed to read the ID, meaning much faster resolution. Implementation has begun and the WBU-ISOG resolutions calling for the requirement from Jan. 1 2015 for satellite operators to begin the transition to Carrier ID, will drive further implementation and bring the issue of satellite interference to the foreground again,” he said. “So, my challenge to the industry: let’s see if we can have an even bigger implementation than at London 2012!”

The developments of the latest DVB-Carrier ID technology have been key with Coleman citing “a number of significant improvements” coming with this technology. “The CID information is contained in a separate carrier, or MetaCarrier. Secondly, it is embedded using spread spectrum techniques, without adding appreciable noise to the main traffic carrier or transmission. The identifier is agnostic of the traffic transmitted over the SCPC carrier (both Transport Stream Video and IP Data) Carrier ID is opened up to all SCPC and MCPC applications from broadcast, trunking, backhaul to government networks over satellite,” he said. “[You also have improvements such as] the integrity of the original content is maintained and the technology also provides higher robustness even when the main carrier is jammed. All of this makes for a much more efficient way of identifying interference when it is occurs, and crucially it can be located without interrupting the feed.”

While there will undoubtedly be a focus on events in Brazil, particularly with the sporting events going on, satellite interference is a global issue, and has been particularly relevant in the Middle East, where a number of hot spots have emerged in recent times, mainly in terms of intentional interference. According to Coleman, geolocation technologies could be the key to countering this.

“The most effective way to do that is with geolocation technology and we have been working with manufacturers to make a number of improvements to that technology. By improving Geolocation technologies, we can locate the source much more efficiently, as well as becoming more accurate, helping us to pinpoint a much more precise location,” he said. “One of the key goals for IRG over the coming months is to improve and standardize geolocation procedures, data gathering and reporting, for all types of geolocated interference.”