Editorial | Carrier ID Debuts in London

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Congratulations, if not necessarily medals, are in order for the organizations responsible for getting Carrier ID adopted by the world’s top three telecommunications satellite operators in time for broadcasts of the 2012 Summer Olympics, now under way in London.

Carrier ID is a broadcaster identification stamp that enables the operators — Intelsat, SES and Eutelsat — to identify sources of unintentional interference to their satellite transmissions. Experts say more than 95 percent of all satellite interference is unintentional — in many cases the result of faulty or improperly placed ground equipment. Putting a stop to that type of interference is often simply a matter finding where the errant signals are coming from and notifying the broadcaster.

Credit is certainly due to Intelsat, SES and Eutelsat, which committed in 2011 to having Carrier ID ready in time for the Summer Games and persuaded several of their uplink equipment suppliers to adapt their products accordingly. Several television broadcasters have also fallen in line.

But the companies had help, notably from nonprofit advocacy organizations including the Satellite Interference Reduction Group, or sIRG, which has been promoting a technical solution to the interference problem. SIRG was instrumental in bringing together the relevant industrial parties to develop and test the processes for implementing Carrier ID.

The Summer Olympics was an ideal venue to debut Carrier ID given the high level of interest worldwide in the events — and thus heavy demand for satellite bandwidth — and because it provided a practical yet hard adoption deadline. SIRG wisely elected to focus on the three biggest operators, which together account for some 50 percent of the commercial bandwidth available on the market, reasoning that once they adopted Carrier ID the others would have little choice but to follow suit.

The equipment now undergoing trial by fire in London is expected to be available on the commercial market starting next year.

SIRG is looking to build on the momentum it has helped to create. One goal is to make Carrier ID a firm requirement for satellite uplink services by 2015. The necessary equipment should more than pay for itself by reducing the losses satellite operators absorb each year because of interference. Further out on the horizon is Satellite ID, which would enable ground equipment users, particularly those with mobile, deployable terminals, to be sure they are uplinking to the right satellite. These are worthy aspirations and organizations like sIRG and the Global VSAT Forum, along with the industry they exist to promote, should press hard to make them a reality in the wake of the recent success.

As is commonly said, satellite interference is everybody’s problem. The adoption of Carrier ID for the London Olympics is a success that everybody can applaud.

UK