Armed Forces TV Broadcast Gains Speedier Data Transmission

Article excerpt

The Armed Forces Radio and Television Service is expanding its broadcast capabilities by increasing the amount of data it can transmit to affiliates over its satellite network

U.S. diplomatic and military personnel overseas typically tune into radio and television programming beamed to their local Armed Forces Network affiliate.

The Armed Forces Radio and Television Service Broadcast Center (AFRTS-BC) in Riverside, Calif, is the hub of the network. Operated by the Defense Department, AFRTS-BC signals reach more than 400 outlets in 150 countries and U.S. territories via satellite transmission.

In order to meet growing demands, the AFRTS is upgrading the so-called multiplexers-the modem-like devices used to funnel multiple data streams through their encoded satellite broadcast link. The center needed to deliver text-based radio and television scheduling changes and updates, along with live wire service news feed over its encoded satellite broadcast link. The old multiplexers were slow and no longer being manufactured.

Mark Duff, a project engineer at the Riverside facility, stressed the AFRTS' need to improve its affiliate messaging system. "The most difficult thing was finding a new multiplexer that could meet our unique requirements," Duff said. "We needed a unit that would tie into a multicasting satellite system that sends one way transmission, and didn't require a two-way link for error checking, What we discovered when we went looking was that most companies simply didn't produce what we wanted."

The system eventually chosen was a unidirectional serial multiplexer from Champaign, Illinois-based Data Comm for Business (DCB).

"The one-way serial multiplexer AFRTS now is using was originally developed in late 1998 as a customized solution for an Environment Canada research project that required one-way air-to-ground transmission," said Russ Straayer, president of DCB. …