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Eutelsat “Smart LNB” Includes Transmitter

Eutelsat last week said it has successfully completed the first phase of development of a “smart LNB” for direct-to-home TV services. The major difference is the “smart LNB” includes an embedded transmitter for interactive applications, subscription management, pay-per-view services and more.

“Building on Eutelsat’s track record for innovation that broadens the scope and competitivity of satellite services, the ‘smart LNB’ will enable broadcast players to more efficiently serve their customer base and diversify the range and nature of applications offered, from direct customer support to audience measurement and enhanced security,” said Jean-François Leprince-Ringuet, Eutelsat’s chief commercial officer. “This new technology can benefit satellite homes with limited options for the return link as well as mature markets where platform operators are seeking to build and sustain a close direct relationship with their subscriber base.”

The “smart LNB” is designed to be compatible with existing consumer satellite equipment through its use of open standards such as DVB-S2 and IP transport and is able to work in the C, Ku and Ka satellite bands. Eutelsat developed “highly efficient protocols” for the IP connection link.

Eutelsat has tested the proof-of-concept and prototype hardware over Eutelsat satellites and said it is now ready for validation with platform operators and partners. Eutelsat stated that it has launched the industrialization process with the first manufacturers with the objective that this new product will be adopted by further hardware manufacturers and become a pillar of future television infrastructure.

The “smart LNB” will be showcased at the Eutelsat stand (Hall 1, Stand 1.D59) at the Sept. 13-17 IBC event in Amsterdam.

This device eliminates the need for a DBS consumer to have their DBS receiver connected to a phone line or Internet connection for authorization. It makes me wonder whether broadcasters might have to consider some sort of two-way communication using their spectrum at some point in the future? While I could see how the new DVB terrestrial TV standards could support this with a cellular type transmitter/receiver network, I find it difficult to see how it would work with a single stick transmitter configuration such as those used in the United States. However, amateur radio operators are doing some pretty amazing things with very low bit-rates. Some very robust digital transmission standards might just provide a way to make it work if such low data rates are acceptable.