Home >> January 2008 Edition >> HILTRON’s Turnkey Satellite Platform
HILTRON’s Turnkey Satellite Platform
by Dr. Michael Schiestl
Sales Director, HILTRON

RFPs, tenders, and other requests for the installation of turnkey satcom platforms for a variety of communications and media companies across the globe represent increasing opportunities for firms in the comsat industries. A major concern for firms seeking turnkey systems is to find a supplier who is able to integrate all of the necessary components, services and subsystems within a central management platform. One such intriguing project for a widely renowned media broadcaster presented itself to HILTRON GmbH…

The client
German-based DR was originally known Radioordningen in 1925, then Statsradiofonien in 1926, and finally as Danmarks Radio in 1959. DR is Denmark’s national broadcasting corporation that was founded in 1925 as a public service organization and is funded through broadcast receiving license fees. These fees are paid by anyone who owns a radio or television set in Denmark, regardless if they use the services of DR or not—plus, in January of last year, the fee also had to be paid by anyone capable of accessing Internet connections at, or above, 256 kbps downstream as well as those with mobile phones who could obtain Internet streamed video. DR operates four FM radio stations, 14 Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) stations plus 13 web radio stations, two TV channels, and also operates a huge website that’s also accessible using a mobile phone. In other words, a large media player in the Denmark market.

The project
At the close of 2004, DR Byen requested formal proposals from interested companies to build a complete satellite communication platform, to be located on top of, and inside, one of the company’s new buildings comprising part of their new media facilities.

The integrator
HILTRON GmbH is a leading system integrator, manufacturer and distributor with expertise in satellite and wireless communication. Founded in 1979, the firm is located near Stuttgart, Germany, in the town of Backnang. HILTRON’s competencies reside within various areas:
  • DVB-S/S2 Satellite Uplink Stations for TV, Radio and Data Transmission
  • VSAT Systems
  • Television Receive Only (TVRO) Systems for Cable Headends or for Terrestrial Retransmission
  • Fixed and Mobile Microwave Links for Broadcasting
  • Direct Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) Systems
  • Fibre Optic Systems in the L- and IF-Band
  • Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial (DVB-T) Encoding & Multiplexing Headends
  • ATM/SDH/PDH/IP Transport Networks (Asynchronous Transfer Mode/Synchronous Digital Hierarchy/Plesiochronous Digital Hierarchy/Internet Protocol)
  • Wireless Camera Systems
HILTRON has long been able to demonstrate the benefits of satellite communication—it is the most versatile platform for a number of simultaneous broadcast activities over the same platform:
  • Program contribution and distribution based on DVB-S/S2
  • Reception of SNG transmission and communication channel to the SNG vans in the field
  • Reception of commercial channels from all available satellites
  • Program contribution and distribution for radio FM
The plan was to present the following solution. Consider a suitable mix of rotatable and fixed antennas, as this would ensure complete commercial satellite coverage for this area of the world. Each antenna would be equipped with a feed to allow simultaneous reception of the two polarisations (H/V) in Ku-band and the low and high band frequency range. Each antenna would provide four L-band receive signals. The signals could be fed, via fibre optics, to a central receive system comprised of a powerful L-band matrix and an appropriate number of integrated receivers and decoders (IRDs). Such would allow the operator to receive all available TV channels at the same time, whether they were transmitted from an SNG van or from another broadcast organization.

Part of HILTRON’s concept included two multifocus antennas with as many as eight feeds, with each feed pointing to a different satellite. Such an antenna would provide as many as 32 L-band signals. The two multifocus antennas would have to be delivered and installed by a third party, but HILTRON could supply the entire radio frequency segment, including the fibre optic links.

All antennas are designed for reception and transmission. This guarantees both tasks are met using the same platform—the reception of all necessary TV channels and the transmission of signals for distribution and contribution from headquarters.

The challenge & the delivery
HILTRON won this turnkey contract for the DR satellite platform partnering with BFE Siemens, Europe’s largest integrator for TV and radio studios. This contract is a huge success as well as a major milestone for Hiltron in terms of the company’s international references and reputation.

HILTRON was able to offer a solid, competitive solution, especially in regards to the need of installing all antennas on top of a high building with extremely limited crane access. This required:
  • Cooperation with a highly specialized crane company on site—crane costs exceeded 5,000 euros per day.
  • Careful design of the antenna foundations in close cooperation with the customer and the civil engineers
  • Organization of a special transport company to ship two large antennas from the old TV site to the new site without dismantling the reflector (4.6m and 3.7m)
  • Use of advanced project management tools to comply with the overall DR Byen project management schedule
  • Multi-step design verification of all major sub-systems
The system supplied by HILTRON was comprised of the following major sub-systems:
  • Antenna platform (new antennas and refurbishment): 3 off 3.7M, 1 off 4.8M, 1 off 4.6M
  • Antenna control systems: tracking and positioning including beacon receivers
  • RF equipment: Travelling Wave Tube Amplifiers (TWTA) up to 750W, Solid State Power Amplifiers (SSPA) up to 70W, Low Noise Amplifiers / Low Noise Blockers (LNAs/LNBs), frequency converters
  • Encoding and modulation: DVB-S/S2 modulators, MPEG-2 encoders, VSAT modems
  • Fibre optic links in L-band and IF
  • Receiving equipment: IRDs and L-band distribution
  • Fully comprehensive Monitor & Control (M&C) system, including Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) capability
The finished project
HILTRON implemented a fully versatile, future-proof, and extendable satellite platform based on state-of-the art equipment from leading manufacturers. The system is complete, from encoding and decoding of MPEG-2 signals, the entire RF technology as well as the complex antenna systems, all managed under a single, powerful M&C platform.

The M&C platform is the masterpiece of the system and allows the customer to carry out the following major tasks:
  • Fully automated selection of TV channels based on a sophisticated data base comprised of all satellite data, reception frequencies and available services
  • Automated setting of all uplink parameters
  • All alarms and problems reported in a unique way under the same management platform
  • The management system reports to the overall DR Byen management system via the standardized SNMP protocol
The satellite platform has been in operation 24/7 for more than two years and no major problems have been reported so far. Plus, the system can be upgraded for additional, future satellite up- and downlinks without difficulty. DR Byen now operates a highly flexible satellite system, which is one crucial part of their large media center, making DR Byen one of the largest broadcasting companies in Europe. HILTRON was thrilled to play a major role in this accomplishment.