Safe and Sound

PBS installs satellite uplink as a protective measure

It's nothing but clear skies for PBS. Credit goes to a new system that will automatically switch to a backup transmission procedure in case the network's satellite uplink suffers from interference or rain fade.

ILC's MaxView network control software system will be installed in three locations: PBS headquarters in Alexandria, Va.; the network's main satellite interconnection system in Springfield, Va.; and a backup Earth station in Manasses, Va.

Rain fade, when heavy rain affects the quality of the signal being beamed to the satellite, is the most common problem. In the past, the public broadcaster turned to commercial TV to get its weather news, monitoring either The Weather Channel or the local news. It then switched to the remote station if necessary.

MaxView uses Internet Protocol to communicate with the remote location; the system instantly indicates any problems.

"We saw a need to improve our utilization of personnel, especially as our workload is expanding with new digital TV feeds," says Bill Hull, PBS director of satellite operations. "We realized we needed to automate the process as much as possible."