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Satellite IRG and Global VSAT Forum collaborate against interference

The continuing and growing problem of satellite interference is leading to growing collaboration in the field. Now the Satellite Interference Reduction Group (sIRG) has announced that it is working closely with the Global VSAT Forum (GVF) to deal with the costly and time-consuming interference problem. This follows the move announced in April at NAB 2011 by sIRG to cooperate with key satellite operators and equipment manufacturers to examine new ways to tackle interference.

Radio rrequency interference (RFI) has been a growing problem for years, but efforts to tackle it so far have met with limited success. Some operating are losing several million dollars a year in lost revenue resulting largely from the additional resources required to investigate the sources of RFI, according to sIRG.

One of the first major efforts to tackle satellite interference came in 2005 when sIRG, then known as SUIRG (Satellite Users Interference Reduction Group), launched the Global Uplinker Registry, enabling satellite operators and services companies to locate and engage uplinkers utilising satellite services anywhere in the world. Uplinkers include satellite trucks engaged in outside broadcasts, with faulty equipment in these becoming a major source of interference. It was thought that by compiling a registry with threats to cut uplinkers off the list if they repeatedly caused interference and failed to take corrective action, the problem would be reduced, but this did not happen. SUIRG came up with a different approach relying on technology rather than coercion: the inclusion of carrier ID within MPEG transport streams. As part of the ongoing effort to combat interference and benefit users, satellite operators in 2009 endorsed a recommendation from the World Broadcasting Union's International Satellite Operations Group (WBU-ISOG) and are supporting the ongoing sIRG initiative for inclusion of a carrier ID inside MPEG transport streams. Intelsat, along with other satellite operators, has been working with hardware manufacturers to implement a carrier ID system, which will supply an embedded electronic signature including the emergency contact information of the interference source, to satellite operators, helping them quickly identify sources of interference so they can then contact the perpetrator.

These efforts have been reinforced since March 2011, when sIRG announced a major reorganisation and changed its name from the Satellite Users Interference Reduction Group (SUIRG) as it had been known. The collaboration with GVF will focus on determining the cause of interference, as well as taking measures to reduce the occurrences through a number of initiatives. These include introduction of carrier ID, in the form of embedded code; promoting a system of type approval or system characterisation; and training/certification.

sIRG and GVF are co-presenting at the Asia-Pacific Satellite Communications Council (APSCC) summit during Broadcast Asia. Martin Coleman, executive director of sIRG, and David Hartshorn, secretary general at GVF, will be discussing the problem of interference and measures the industry can take to reduce, and ultimately avoid it.

Both groups will also be campaigning heavily throughout the show, meeting with operators and equipment manufacturers, as well as attending a number of conferences and meetings.