EBU welcomes performance enhancements from NS3

The European Broadcast Union would like to see NovelSat’s NS3 satellite transponder technology become a DVB standard after adopting it in its own network for distribution of live sports feeds to its broadcasting customers in Asia and the Americas.

The EBU announced in March 2012 that it was deploying NovelSat’s NS3 satellite modulation technology to distribute news and sports content within its global network, including broadcast feeds for Formula 1 races, the London Olympics and the UEFA Euro 2012 football championship. This is for modulating video over 72MHz transponders, and according to the EBU, there was no other vendor with a fully available commercial product meeting its performance requirements at the time it assessed the options available in mid 2011.

NovelSat has claimed this will increase video throughput over 72MHz transponders by up to 78 percent, but the EBU is only willing to admit to a proven 28-percent efficiency gain.

“If you just compare carrier to carrier on a one to one basis, the gain was 28 percent,” confirmed the EBU’s head of procurement Paolo Pusterla.

But, even this level will yield huge cost savings and enable the EBU to meet the capacity required by its customers for sports feeds that are now almost entirely in HD.

“We were looking for the ability to have a much more effective operation, with more payload for the same bandwidth in which we operate,” said Pusterla. “This is particularly crucial for us because we have to deal with a massive distribution of live feeds in conjunction with major sporting events. This is particularly expensive because a transponder over Europe costs in the region €2 million to €2.5 million per year in a prime location for live feed distribution, and all of a sudden just for a few hours in a few days a year, you need all this bandwidth.”

With standard equipment, the EBU would have had to spend at least 28 percent more just to meet this peak requirement.

“Apart from that saving it may not be possible to find all that bandwidth,” Pusterla added.

Having taken the NovelSat route it would be in the EBU’s interests for the NS3 technology to be adopted as the DVB’s third generation standard as NovelSat is lobbying for, because this would create competition and reduce costs.

“If this becomes a standard this will be very welcome for us clearly because we would have the opportunity to source the same kind of equipment from other vendors,” said Pusterla. For NovelSat it would create competition but at the same time enlarge the market, perhaps bringing the technology into the much bigger consumer end of satellite distribution.

The NovelSat NS3 increases spectral efficiency through algorithms that utilize the greater processing power available now compared with the time the current DVB-S2 standard was developed a decade ago. Part of the improvement is achieved by reducing roll-off, which is the guard band at each end of a channel to protect interference. In DVB-S2 this guard band is 20 percent of the channel spectral width, which itself was an improvement over the 35 percent of the first generation DVB-S. But NovelSat says that by exploiting the greater processing power available now compared with the time over a decade ago when DVB-S2 was developed, it has been able to reduce the roll off band to just 5 percent at each end of a channel.

NovelSat claims that video capacity gains as high as 78 percent can be achieved across the full spectrum of the 72MHz transponders used by the EBU, partly by exploiting the greater scope for statistical multiplexing when there is capacity more channels. In effect, then, there is a positive feedback effect, in that the more channels that can be fitted into a carrier the greater the potential to squeeze in yet another one through statistical multiplexing.