Cost containment measures contribute to growing satellite interference problem

October 19, 2004

A growing number of radio frequency interference incidents in satellite communications can be attributed in part to an effort among uplink operators to cut or control costs, according to the Satellite Users Interference Reduction Group (SUIRG). At a SUIRG meeting in late September, representatives from satellite operators, equipment makers and transmission identification companies identified several other sources of interference, including:

  • Spurious transmissions
  • Faulty or dirty cables/connections
  • VHF radio interference with a satellite uplink chain
  • A growing number of uplinkers with minimal technical training, particularly in emerging regions of the globe.
Identifying the source of RFI can range from weeks to months of man-hours. Additionally, increased troubleshooting and a reduction in available bandwidth due to interference are placing an onerous cost burden on satellite operators. The result is higher transponder sale or lease prices, which ultimately are passed on to network operators and customers.

The time and costs expended identifying the geo-location of interference sources could be considerably reduced if transmit signal identification was implemented.

According to those attending the SUIRG conference in St. Petersburg, FL, the real issue lies with reducing the number and types of RFI incidents. This will require greater outreach on the part of the satellite operators, intensified efforts by hardware and software suppliers to build affordable transmission systems with signal ID capability, and a good faith effort by satellite uplinkers to provide their technicians with appropriate levels of training.

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