Commtronix personnel have been involved with Terrestrial Digital Audio Broadcasting “T-DAB”, or just DAB since the earliest days of the London commercial test multiplex back in 1998. Transmitter installs, moves, rebuilds, upgrades – we've been there and done that. Multiplex system builds and installs, ETI programme feed distribution, GPS time stamping, IP and X21 programme contribution circuits along with hardware and software studio codecs – we've been there and done those too. We've worked with broadcasters and their partners, both national and local, commercial and pubic service to deliver DAB technology to listeners around the UK.
And now we are proud to be taking a leading role with the installation and operation of the OFCOM sanctioned Small Scale DAB “SSD” trial licences in 2015. Through our partnership with Solent Wireless group we have installed and launched one of the first multiplexes to go on air, bringing 6 new stations to the city of Portsmouth and surrounding area.
Conventional national and regional DAB services have been developed over the past 20 years needing high capital investment central multiplexer systems, multiple well-sited transmitter sites and wide area network connectivity often using proprietary software driven architecture. The low cost local trials on the other hand are based on the international Open Digital Radio (ODR) project using open source and widely supported linux driven technology. The multiplexer system is replaced by a small hand-held sized computer which also generates the software defined RF exciter chain. The project has been nurtured and matured by OFCOM's own engineers as a way of lowering the entry barriers to DAB broadcasting for smaller, localised stations. There are 10 small scale trials across the UK which are due to last for 9 months during which time the technical and economic implications of the technology can be assessed.
Commtronix are proud to have been selected to have played a role in the switchover of broadcast television in the United Kingdom to a fully Digital service. The Digital Switch Over (DSO) project rolled out from 2007-2012 and was one of the largest and most complex broadcast engineering projects ever undertaken in the country.
Commtronix were able to use their skill set to provide multiple solutions to the broadcasters and their technology partners. To facilitate installation of six new sets of DTV transmitters it was necessary on many of the 50+ main station transmitter sites to move at least one of the analogue services onto a temporary containerised transmitter so the existing building could be refurbished. Commtronix provided installation and commissioning services for programme feeds, PIE/TIE, telemetry, teletext, reserve feeds and more using a combination of baseband and RF copper and fibre optic cross-site connection. These temporary transmitters were often in use for 12-15 months prior to DSO switchover so no shortcuts or compromises with the installation were acceptable.
Once service had been transferred to the new container transmission system Commtronix were engaged to de-commission and remove the elderly analogue transmitters and prepare the building for the extensive civil, mechanical and electrical works to follow. Parts of the old transmitters were required to be retained as spares for other services whereas other parts were separated into recycling streams and processed in accordance with WEEE regulations and client requirements.
Elsewhere within the DSO project we were commissioned to relocate numerous unrelated transmitter systems such as local and national FM radio, DAB radio, paging and radiocomms systems, microwave links and various network racks to allow floor and building space to be created for DSO rollout. Again we provided multiple solutions often with temporary equipment and overnight working to minimise customer disruption. Recommissioning generally require all new cabling, feeds, optical and network connections.