Multiswitch and Satellite TV in Modern Hotels
A contemporary hotel without access to satellite television? It’s hard to imagine. A wide range of programs, in undeniable quality, and access to television in many languages. A selection of favorite channels is crucial for guest satisfaction, especially for foreign visitors. It’s often their only link to their home country.
Costs and Benefits
The undeniable advantage of satellite television is that it can be received practically everywhere, which is not the case with fiber-optic television delivered to the hotel. Bringing fiber optics to a hotel can cost tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of zlotys. The cost of installing a satellite dish is a mere fraction of such an investment.
Traditional Satellite Reception
Until now, the only way to receive satellite channels in a hotel was to install a headend station. The station received selected satellite channels and transmitted them to guest room TVs in the DVB-T or DVB-C standard. However, the cost of a headend station was often prohibitive for small hotel facilities. They could not offer their guests foreign channels or Polish premium channels such as TVN24 or Canal+.
Modern Solutions in Hotel TVs
For several years now, leading electronics manufacturers – LG, Samsung, and Vestel, have been offering hotel TVs with built-in satellite receivers. This allows the TV to access all unencrypted channels on the satellite (FTA). This often includes dozens of valuable channels. The number of received channels is only limited by the satellite’s capacity, not by the number of receivers built into the headend, as was previously the case. Additionally, in hotel TVs, you can create a single, combined channel list for terrestrial, cable, and satellite television.
Challenges in Installation
For TVs to independently receive satellite channels, an antenna cabling installation in a star or point-to-point configuration is necessary. This means a direct connection of the hotel room TV to the location where the satellite signal distribution point is located. Unfortunately, a through-connection (from room to room) or a split connection is completely unusable in this case.
Multiswitch in Hotel Satellite Television
The foundation of such a network is the multiswitch. What is a multiswitch? A multiswitch is a device used to distribute television signals from a satellite or terrestrial antenna to multiple receivers. It works by splitting the input signal into many output signals, enabling television reception in multiple rooms simultaneously without loss of image or sound quality.
How Does a Multiswitch Work?
The operation of a multiswitch can be compared to a telephone exchange. It connects the end receiver (TV) with the appropriate input from the satellite antenna. Every TV receiver with a built-in satellite tuner, connected to the multiswitch, receives the signal as if it was connected directly to a single LNB of a satellite dish. The multiswitch also enables the integration of signals from multiple independent antennas – satellites, originating from different TV service providers.
Multiswitch Solutions: Legacy (Traditional), Single Cable dCSS/sCR or Optical?
There are several types of multiswitches; we will briefly present the most important ones.
Traditional Multiswitches (Legacy)
Their design and operation are relatively simple, but effective, making them popular in various installations.
Legacy Type Multiswitch Construction – Terminal, consists of several key elements:
It most often has separate inputs for the satellite and terrestrial signals. For one satellite – two inputs for the satellite signal to cooperate with Wideband converters (one for each of the H/V polarization bands) or four for the Quatro converter (one for each of the H/V polarization bands and low/high frequency bands) and one input for the terrestrial signal. To receive signals from a larger number of satellites, correspondingly more connectors are needed. For example, to receive a signal from a Quatro converter from 4 satellites, the multiswitch is equipped with 17 satellite inputs, four for each satellite. Devices dedicated for 8 satellites are also encountered.
The number of outputs depends on the multiswitch model and determines how many receivers can be connected to it. Each output is capable of delivering a full range of satellite and terrestrial signals. Multiswitches with the following number of outputs are most commonly encountered: 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, and 32. There are also multiswitches available with 2 and 64 outputs.
Legacy type multiswitches often contain amplifiers to ensure adequate signal strength at all outputs. The satellite signal is always amplified, while the amplification of the terrestrial signal is optional.
This device usually requires external power to power the built-in amplifiers and other active elements.
A cascading multiswitch is a special type of multiswitch that allows for the creation of extensive and flexible satellite and terrestrial signal distribution systems. Unlike traditional multiswitches, which operate independently, cascading multiswitches are designed to work with other multiswitches in a hierarchical structure.
The construction of a cascading multiswitch differs from that of a terminal multiswitch. Like the terminal multiswitch, it has separate inputs for satellite and terrestrial signals. The difference occurs on the output side. In addition to standard outputs for connecting receivers, the cascading multiswitch also has cascading (trough) outputs, which allow for the connection of additional multiswitches and the construction of extensive signal distribution systems that can be flexibly adapted to the needs of a particular installation.
In summary, Legacy type multiswitches are reliable and proven devices for distributing TV signals, used in a variety of installations. Thanks to their simplicity, efficiency, and compatibility with different systems, Legacy type multiswitches remain a popular choice among installers and users.
Single-Cable Satellite Signal Distribution in a Hotel: Unicable, SCR, and DCSS
Some manufacturers have introduced the ability to receive signals distributed in a single-cable system in their hotel TVs. This distribution is an innovative satellite TV technology, allowing for the transmission of signals to multiple receivers using a single coaxial cable. This technology significantly simplifies installations, eliminating the need to use numerous cables and providing full access to the TV offering.
Hybrid compact multiswitch from Lem Elettronica with the possibility of mixing terrestrial TV. It automatically recognizes connected decoders of Legacy – SCR – dCSS types. Ideal for radial systems, with external power supply for optimal dimensions, cost reduction, and maintenance time. Compatible with Quatro LNB and Wide Band LNB. It can be used to receive signals from 2 satellites using a Wide Band LNB.
Unicable is a European standard for distributing satellite signals through a single coaxial cable, defined in 2007. It allows for independent tuning across the entire satellite reception range for each tuner. This technology uses advanced integrated circuits, significantly reducing the costs of implementing single-cable distribution functions. Unicable is a proprietary technology developed by Inverto.
Satellite Channel Router (SCR)
SCR, or Satellite Channel Router, is a standardized European solution for distributing satellite TV signals. It has been defined in the EN50494 standard. SCR technology provides full support for the Unicable standard, allowing the use of up to 32 tuners with a single cable. This solution uses a frequency spectrum between 950 and 2150 MHz to transmit signals. SCR is fully compatible with Legacy multiswitches, enabling hybrid installations.
Dynamic Cascading Satellite Channel Router (DCSS)
DCSS, or Dynamic Cascading Satellite Channel Router, is the latest generation of single-cable satellite distribution technology. It has been defined in the EN50607 standard. DCSS supports up to 128 tuners with a single cable and is backward compatible with SCR and Unicable. This technology provides additional flexibility and efficiency in signal distribution, making it an ideal solution for extensive installations, such as hotels.
In summary, modern single-cable satellite distribution technologies, such as Unicable, SCR, and DCSS, offer significant advantages in terms of installation simplicity, flexibility, and efficiency. They are becoming increasingly popular in various types of installations, including hotels, providing full access to the TV offering with a significantly reduced need for cabling.
If you are considering implementing a satellite TV distribution system in a hotel or any other extensive installation, it is worth exploring these innovative technologies to find the most suitable and cost-effective solution for your specific needs.
Disadvantages of Fiber-Optic Distribution of Satellite and Terrestrial TV in a Hotel
Although fiber-optic technology brings numerous benefits in terms of transmission quality and data transfer capabilities, the initial costs associated with its implementation can be higher than those for traditional installations based on copper coaxial cable. Above all, the components of the fiber-optic system, such as optical multiswitches, are more expensive to purchase than traditional multiswitches with similar parameters. However, it is worth remembering that despite higher initial outlays, in the long run, fiber-optic technology can bring significant savings and better performance compared to coaxial cable systems. And in the event of the introduction of new, currently unknown technologies in the future, it will probably allow avoiding the need to modernize the antenna network.
Satellite IF – IF Headend – an Alternative to Multiswitches
The solutions described above apply exclusively to facilities where the antenna installation is made in a star or point-to-point manner. This results from the fact that a TV with a built-in satellite receiver controls the multiswitch and the converter by sending specific tones and voltages through the coaxial cable. These control signals decide on the selection of a specific transponder or satellite. As a result, the user, by changing the channel on the TV, unconsciously also controls the multiswitch system, which in response delivers the appropriate satellite signal to the receiver. Therefore, there must be a direct connection between the devices.
How to Use the Built-in Satellite Tuner in a TV Without a Multiswitch Installation?
There is a solution to the problem associated with direct control of the multiswitch and the required antenna network topology. This is a headend – a converter that permanently introduces selected satellite frequencies into the antenna network. An example of such a converter is the SAT 32evo device from LEM Elettronica. This converter is an advanced device used to process satellite signals. It can be connected to a Quattro, Quad, or Wideband LNB. The SAT 32evo can convert 32 DVB-S or DVB-S2 (QPSK / 8PSK) transponders into any 32 output frequencies. The range of output frequencies can be individually set from 950 to 2150 MHz, and for Wideband LNB from 250 to 2400 MHz. This frequency range can be supplied to the existing, SAT-compatible coaxial network.
In this way, the built network allows for the distribution of satellite TV channels from selected independent 32 transponders (even from several satellites) and terrestrial channels. This is an excellent solution for using the built-in satellite receivers in hotel TVs. Due to its universality (no special network construction is required) and price, it is especially recommended for small hotel facilities and guesthouses.
Requirements for TVs
To fully utilize the capabilities of modern TVs, it is worth paying attention to whether they can set a single, common channel list for terrestrial and satellite TV. Such functionality is offered by hotel TVs. Unfortunately, most TVs, both those with hotel mode and typical consumer models, do not offer this function. In practice, this means that the user has to switch between different channel lists, which can be unintuitive and cause problems, especially for guests who are not accustomed to the specific equipment.
This can lead to situations where staying in a hotel or guesthouse becomes less enjoyable due to problems with operating the TV. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to these issues when choosing a device and ensure that our guests can use the TV without any problems, enjoying smooth and easy operation.
Where to Buy?
All the devices described in this article are available for purchase at iBeeQ.
IT engineer. Over twenty years in the hotel television industry. Currently, he advises hotels on television for hotels and Wi-Fi networks for guests. It works directly with leading manufacturers of devices dedicated to hotels.