2wcom – SatBroadcasting™: Encoder Enhancement Eases DVB-S2 Switch Over

In 2017, satellite transmissions are undergoing a monumental change — the switch over to the DVB-S2 standard — the technology is more open and is designed to be interoperable with all of the current and future media protocols, no matter if satellite-based or IP-based — and 2wcom is working to ensure such switch overs are accomplished with aplomb. One example is Alouette that is based in Herbiers, Vendée, France. Since 1981, Alouette has become a leader in regional radio in France and also happens to be the largest and most popular broadcaster in the western region of that nation. Operating 43 of their own frequencies, Alouette now covers 15 local departments. The key to their success is their regional focus and closeness to their listeners. Alouette is known for a wide variety of popular formats and the use of cutting-edge technology. Alouette quickly expanded into becoming a genuine, regional network. The company President, Bertrand de Villiers, has given the radio network a unique, local, musical style. Since 1996, Alouette has been managing their own MCPC satellite uplink with their partner in the space segment, Globecast — Eutelsat. That is the main reason why the company is not participating in the NSTR project for the change over to DVB-S2 standard, which is a merger of several French broadcasters using a common satellite uplink. Nevertheless, the technical team of engineers had been interested why the NSTR project team had selected a system solution from 2wcom. The positive feedback from the NSTR team, in combination with the visit of Werner Drews (CEO of 2wcom) in the summer of 2016, as well as a highly competitive bid, were the main reasons why the DVB-S2 project team of Alouette decided to work with 2wcom. The system operators of Alouette quickly realized that the professional and high-quality products of 2wcom were keeping pace with the needs of a strong, regional orientated, broadcaster. As a further stroke of good luck, 2wcom had just completed the design of their own eight channel audio MPEG encoder — MM08E. The main differences Alouette noted between this encoder and the devices from alternative manufacturer was cost-efficiency and simplicity of configuration and installation. The Alouette project team had four major goals: • Best possible flexibility regarding transmission sources and coding algorithms • Keeping technology as simple and as cost-efficient as possible • Optimize quality via a well-constructed redundancy concept • A solution tailored to the requirements of regional broadcasting To ensure an unproblematic switchover to the DVB-S2 standard, Alouette initiated a test phase in February of 2017. The company acquired, on loan, one of each device that was planned to be a part of the new system. The technical team had an extremely close look at all of the functions and interoperability of this equipment with the on-site system. This was particularly important in regard to one of the main requirements — local content broadcasting. The detailed descriptions that follow explain quite clearly why the selected 2wcom equipment perfectly met the stated requirements of Radio Alouette. Alouette engineers received the first manufactured MM08E device at their station and initiated discussions with 2wcom regarding the test results of the equipment. The MPEG encoder, flexible in use for IP and satellite system requirements, also offered a wide selection of excellent quality codecs (Enhanced apt-X, AAC, MPEG I/II Layer 2/3, PCM) as well as RDS data — plus, MM08E also generates independent multiple streams. With the use of MM08E, transmission of ancillary data and switching contact information (GPIO) could be forwarded via integrated interfaces. If more hardware channels are required, activation can be easily and conveniently managed via software updates. After several weeks of working intensively with the device, all of the Alouette engineers were impressed by how dependably the prototype equipment performed. The technical staff came to the conclusion that the device is a complete and competitively priced product, rounded out by offering functions for quality management (MPEG FEC and DualStreaming to avoid IP packet losses), controlling (HTTP, Telnet, NMS and SNMP) and monitoring (IP and MPEG parameters via SNMP v2c and relay, headphone output and alarm, source switch and event logging). Combined with the eSIRC Server and DSR02+ receivers, this solution enables Alouette to distribute and broadcast local programs and fully control the entire channel using a hybrid satellite IP solution. Selecting eSIRC (Satellite Inband Remote Control) was due to this web-based software for remote control precisely meeting the needs demanded for daily work, cost reduction and economy of time. Equipping FlexDSR02+ with the SIRC option and an SD card makes it possible to use the entire range of enhanced functions of eSIRC. As a result, the technicians were able to completely access eSIRC management system via the web interface from any computer within the network for uploading data files to the internal memory of integrated FlexDSR02+ receivers (such as firmware, audio, reports and configuration). This was important for immediate use with an up-time close to 100 percent as well as for broadcasting content at a later point of time. All content stored on internal memory of remote devices is mirrored within the eSIRC. Therefore, the network operators at Alouette can always track the state of internal memory on all integrated devices without the need for a physical connection. If a certain file is scheduled to be uploaded, that file will also be stored in the local mirror of the concerned device. As storage space of each device is accessible via web interface, and also via FTP, network operators are able to