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Customised solution helps Arqiva expand the UK DAB network

It was important for Arqiva in the roll-out of the UK DAB radio network that we had a reliable solution for the distribution of signals. Working with ETL provided the exact design we needed, in a compact and resilient housing, helping us to deliver the best possible service to our customers.
Nathan Dixon, Principle Technologist for Terrestrial Broadcast at Arqiva.

The Situation

Arqiva is a UK based communications infrastructure and media services company, offering satellite communications and signal distribution. It provides much of the infrastructure behind television, radio, satellite and wireless communications in the UK. Customers include major UK and international broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV, Turner Broadcasting, BSkyB and the independent radio groups; major telco providers including the UK's four mobile network operators; retail, leisure, energy and water companies; and the emergency services.
Arqiva has been working on a number of large projects involving the expansion of the UK nationwide DAB network. This will increase the coverage of local DAB from 72 per cent to 91 per cent - in line with commercial radio FM reach, which means that nearly eight million more people will receive their favourite local radio stations digitally. The project required a smart and cost effective solution for the distribution of critical L-band satellite signals at multiple UK transmitting stations.

The Task

Arqiva chose to contact ETL Systems, a UK specialist in designing and manufacturing RF equipment, with regards to their requirement for the UK DAB expansion project, as they have worked together successfully on previous satcoms projects. ETL's task was to design a compact product to meet Arqiva's requirements, including line powered amplification, surge protection, with seamless integration alongside Arqiva's satellite receivers. Representatives from both companies worked closely to specify and agree on the functionality and design solution, along with commercial terms. The result was that ETL designed a customised components splitter and mounting bracket which could be fixed at the base of each antenna to receive and distribute DAB signals.

The Design

To allow in-line amplification, each splitter is fitted with an integrated amplifier. The output of each splitter is connected to 4 modulators, which provide DC voltage to power the integrated amplifier in the splitter as well as the antenna's LNB. This incorporates directional DC pass through the splitter, which provides DC protection on each modulator output, whilst maintaining high signal performance throughout the system. This design is now commercially available for other applications.

Transmission Mast