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First of its Kind:

Global Invacom Optical LNB
Tested for the first time ever: GLOBAL INVACOM OPT
04- 05/ 200 8

Transmits satellite sign ICAL LNB

LNB with optical fiber

als nearly free
of any loss over long
distanc es and
with unc ompromised
quality – suitable
for any configuration

connection in a real
reception test
In the previous issue of TELE-satellite we reported exclusively
on the development of an LNB with an optical fiber connection by
the English manufacturer Global Invacom. At the time the only
specimen available was a bulky lab sample. Since then Global
Invacom has put together ten prototype optical LNBs so that this
new and innovative technology can be tested in real world appli-
cations. Global Invacom carried out their first public test at the
TELE-satellite Test Center in Austria. Two Global Invacom repre-
sentatives, project manager Andrew Collar and technician Norman
Harris, travelled to Vienna and mounted their optical LNB on an
existing 90 cm offset antenna and routed the optical cable from
LNB to the lab.

While installing the LNB, light beam is received by a con- Optical LNB by Global Invacom – the 9th of only ten hand-made and
Andrew Collar and Norman verter box which reconverts fully functional prototype LNBs.
Harris explained how the new the signal back into a regular
LNB actually works. As it turns
out, simplicity is the key to
satellite signal which can then
be processed by any standard
success - a stacker that is built digital satellite receiver. Tony Taylor, managing director of Global Invacom, and his team
into the LNB distributes the of advisors are in the rare but envious position of making deci-
four reception polarizations As we watched the Global sions regarding the future of a new technology which will affect
(vertical low and high band as Invacom staff set up the test the entire satellite industry. They have to look for and find answers
well as horizontal low and high system, it became evident that to questions such as: Which type of plugs will be used for the opti-
band) to four distinct frequency the company intends to intro- cal LNB? Shall we rely on the existing standard even though it has
ranges. duce the system one step at a not been conceived for outdoor use? How can we make the plug of
time with the aim of keeping an optical cable weather-proof? How durable and water-proof are
Next, the RF signal is con- everything as simple as pos- existing optical cables that are available in stores today?
verted into a digital signal sible. And then there are those strategic questions which are even
which is then sent through the more difficult to answer: Should optical LNBs be licensed? Not at
optical cable via a laser beam. The LNB features two con- all, or can technological details be given to other manufacturers?
At the other end of the line this nectors, a standard “F” connec- What about the pricing aspects of the optical LNB and converter
box? Too high a price will slow down market penetration of any
new technology and at the same time favor the development of
less expensive competing products with yet another technology.
A mishmash of different standards would then be the result.
And then there’s the mother of all questions: How should the
optical LNB be marketed? Is the term ‘optical LNB’ one that should
stay or does it call for the invention of a new name? How about
“Laser LNB”? And finally: How can manufacturers of satellite
receivers be convinced to add optical LNB inputs to their boxes?
Only one thing is for sure: Global Invacom will find the right
answers to all of these questions!
Signal measurement on RAI transponder on HOTBIRD 13° east. Con-
ventional single LNB (left) and Global Invacom optical LNB (right) Alexander Wiese

Vertical low band (conventional single LNB on the left and Global Horizontal low band (conventional single LNB on the left and Global
Invacom optical LNB on the right) Invacom optical LNB on the right)

18 TELE-satellite & Broadband — 04-05/2008 —

TELE-satellite World
Download this report in other languages from the Internet:
Arabic ‫ﺍﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬
Indonesian Indonesia
Bulgarian Български
Czech Česky
tor (like on any typical LNB) and wide. Keep in mind though that German Deutsch
an optical cable connector. As optical cables should always be English English
Spanish Español
already mentioned in the pre- used with their pre-attached Farsi ‫ﻓﺎﺭﺳﻲ‬
vious issue of TELE-satellite, plugs since special equipment French Français
Greek Ελληνικά
the “F” connector is required is required along with a great Croatian Hrvatski
to provide the LNB with power. amount of skill as well as a lot Italian Italiano
Hungarian Magyar
Global Invacom is still deciding of time to change the connec- Mandarin 中文
whether to use a low voltage tors on optical cables. Dutch Nederlands
Polish Polski
power connector or this exist- Portuguese Português
ing “F” connector to supply Global Invacom will also offer Romanian Românesc
Russian Русский
Swedish Svenska
Turkish Türkçe

splitting the signal into as many using additional thin optical

as 16 optical cables. Over time cables. Unlike much thicker
this number will be increased coax cables, these thin optical
almost endlessly since it only cables can more easily be added
depends on the optical power to existing ducts, even if these
output of the laser beam which ducts are already occupied with
can be increased by the manu- other cables. In addition, opti-
facturer according to the appli- cal cables are resistant to any
cation in which it will be used. kind of interference. If neces-
Initially two LNB’s with differ- sary, optical cables can even
ent fixed output powers are be routed around the strongest
expected to support: small up electrical motor without any
to 16 node or large up to 96 adverse effects.
node MDU networks.
In the individual rooms, the
For an average home this optical signal cable is fed into
means the signal is carried a converter box which in turn
from the LNB through an opti- provides two (in later stages up
cal cable to one or more cen- to four) individual connections
Norman Harris (left), Global Invacom technician, and Andrew Collar,
tral nodes from which it is then for standard multiple tuner sat-
Global Invacom project manager, install the new Global Invacom opti-
cal LNB on a 90 cm dish at the TELE-satellite Test Center Austria in distributed to individual rooms ellite receivers.

power in the production ver- optical cables which can be

sion - a decision will be made in attached to each other using
the next couple of months. An special connectors so that any
advantage to keeping the “F” required cable length can be
connector would be that cus- achieved. For the time being,
tomers wanting to upgrade to standard FCPC plugs will be
an optical LNB would only need used even though the manu-
to run the new optical cable; facturer might switch to a new
the existing coax cable would in-house developed connector
simply be used along with a system at some point in the
power pack to supply power to future.
the LNB.
Once the signal is converted
A standard optical cable can to optical format, it is carried
be used to carry the signal through the optical cable either
between the LNB and converter to the first node or directly to
box. Since this kind of cable has the receiver. The thin optical
become the norm in modern cable is capable of carrying the
telecom networks, the price has full frequency range of a com-
come down significantly over plete satellite and can thus be
the past several years and is perfectly split using passive A word of caution to all installers: Never simply plug in optical cables
now about 1€ per meter. taps. Distribution switches, as – the connections of the cables need to be perfectly clean before they
used in most MDU networks are put together. Various methods can be used to achieve this; the most
So, price is one advantage today are no longer required practical is using the device shown here: the connector of a fibre opti-
of this new technology; the with this system. cal cable is inserted and a lever is then operated to clean the connector
cost of standard coax cables with an extremely fine-grain abrasive paper that is only used once. This
keeps rising consistently due When this system reaches is the only way to guarantee a plugged connection is established with-
to rising copper prices world- the store shelves, it will support out any signal attenuation.

Vertical high band (conventional single LNB on the left and Global Horizontal high band (conventional single LNB on the left and Global
Invacom optical LNB on the right) Invacom optical LNB on the right) — 04-05/2008 — TELE-satellite & Broadband 19

Global Invacom highly recommends using only pre- This will allow you to connect taste and if you insist on having
assembled optical cables. If two such cables need to be two or four satellite receivers a bright green cable, for exam-
connected to increase the overall cable length, the connec- as well as a TV with integrated ple, you could get that too.
tor pieces shown here should to be used. This way any number DVB-T tuner or a DVB-T set-
of pre-assembled rolls can be added together to create overall cable
lengths of several hundred meters or even kilometers. The picture illustra-
top box. In this way a single
thin cable becomes a universal Everyday use
tes the thinness of optical cables with a diameter of only three millimeters. means of transportation for all For our test setup at the Aus-
types of digital media content. trian TELE-satellite Test Center
in Vienna we chose to use a
The converter box design can be concealed completely. By the way, don’t be fooled 90 cm dish with a 40 mm feed
shown in the picture is a pro- Thanks to the optical cabling by the yellow optical cable you adaptor. In the first step, we
totype and does not represent a single thin line can be used see in our pictures; these are mounted a standard single LNB
the final design. The actual box to connect up to four individ- also lab samples. The final to align the dish to HOTBIRD
will be smaller so that it can be ual satellite receiver tuners. cables that will be available for 13° east using the Promax TV
buried or installed like a regu- In addition, Global Invacom is sale will come in more subdued Explorer II (a test report of this
lar satellite IF splitter socket or planning an option to feed DVB- colors such as grey or white device will appear in the next
electrical socket. In this way it T signals into the line as well. but will include colors for every issue of TELE-satellite). For
comparison later on, we saved
the spectrum analyzer results
of all four HOTBIRD polariza-
tions before the Global Inva-
com professionals went about
installing their optical LNB.

Once they finished with the

installation, we stared in awe at
the signal analyzer and realized
at first glance that the results
appeared quite different - and
by that we mean better. We
compared all four polariza-
tions and found out that in
each instance the optical LNB
delivered better results. The
signal level of the optical LNB
was remarkably better and
delivered a more accentuated
result for individual transpon-
ders while the initially installed
single LNB left a consistently
weaker impression.

The reasons for this are two-

fold: first, the optical LNB is a
state-of-the art high-quality
product, and second, there is
almost no signal attenuation
with optical signal transmission
- the actual value is approxi-
mately 0.3 dB per kilometer!

At first we used a 2 way split-

ter in our test configuration,
but once we experienced first
hand how beautifully this new
system worked, we decided to
go for the max and asked the
Global Invacom representa-
tives to distribute the output
signal of the LNB to the cur-
rently maximum possible 16
individual optical outputs. That
is a maximum of 64 Satellite
Tuner inputs.

The measurements sup-

ported what we had expected
right from the start: there was
This is what our test setup looked like: the two boxes actual devices that will officially be introduced will be no deviation in the results; all
to the left are converters which split optical signals even smaller. was still next to perfect accord-
into two identical satellite signals. In this way, two In the center of the picture you can see an optical 1-
satellite receivers can be connected and operated to-4 splitter (above) and 1-to-2 splitter (below), both ing to the TV Explorer II.
completely independently from each other. On page of which already are available for the distribution of
46 of the previous TELE-satellite issue, the same telecom signals with optical cables. We can just imagine the
device can be seen as a lab specimen. Global Inva- To the right there is the hand made optical prototype smiles that this system will put
com was able to reduce the size significantly; the LNB which was used for this test. on the installer’s faces who, up

20 TELE-satellite & Broadband — 04-05/2008 —

all of the time regardless of system and plans to offer cables
That’s how we performed the test: whether it’s DVB-S, DVB-T or consisting of more than one
The optical signal from the LNB is
Internet access. optical cable at a later stage.
led to a converter box, the satel-
lite signal that is provided by the
Looking like any other standard
converter box is connected With the introduction of its cable, this new development will
to the input of optical LNB, Global Invacom allow the reception of signals
the Promax TV has created a true milestone en from two, three or four satellites
Explorer II signal route to this perfect scenario. simultaneously and splitting
analyzer, the We hope that many compo- them so that each end device
nent manufactures will jump will be able to access any signal
on the bandwagon on the way from any of these satellites at
to forever changing the way we any time.
experience multimedia content
today and even more so in the Another Global Invacom plan
coming years. involves putting the laser unit
in a separate box outside the
Unfortunately, Global Inva- LNB so that the size of the opti-
com was not ready to reveal any cal LNB can be reduced with
pricing information; the final the laser box then being placed
output of which is then connected to our laptop PC to create the screen
details will only become avail- inconspicuously on the antenna
shots for the measurement protocols printed here.
able shortly before the official mast. Official sale of the optical
market launch. Initially, the LNB will start in June/July 2008
until now, have always had to is split until each apartment is optical LNB will be designed to and as soon as the first units hit
take into account attenuation, equipped with enough outlets. receive signals from one satel- the stores, TELE-satellite will
interference, tap or switch gain lite only, but Global Invacom take a closer look at the final
flatness and so on when distrib- Spinning this idea even fur- is working on expanding the product.
uting satellite signals to multi- ther, remote or rural areas can
ple outlets. establish small-scale local cable

To sum up, we were totally

networks since the satellite
signal needs to only be received
Expert Opinion
impressed with how well this at one central location and then +
new technology performed in fed into the fiber optical net- The major plus of the optical LNB is that all
a real word setup. As if that work. Global Invacom tests with four signal levels of a satellite can be transmit-
wasn’t enough, the third signal cable lengths of up to 12 km ted simultaneously via a single cable and virtually
measurement we performed on achieved positive results with- loss-free. Thanks to this, the signal can be split
the 11804V transponder used out a significant loss of signal almost endlessly and each outlet is provided with
by the Italian public broadcaster strength (apart from the 0.3 dB all the signals that can be accessed completely Thomas Haring
RAI, cast away any remaining per kilometer attenuation this independently. Test Center
doubts that we might have had. technology brings with it). Another advantage is that this system can
At 86.7 dBμV, the signal level bridge large distances without compromising signal quality.
delivered by the optical LNB Considering the fact that Fibre optical cables are extremely thin and flexible; they will fit
was significantly higher than optical cables can easily be into any existing duct system. The very low signal attenuation
what we had received from the integrated into virtually any results in a considerable gain when large distances need to be
single LNB (75.3 dBμV). existing duct system, this is a covered (like in our test setup, for example, that added up to some
viable alternative to setting up 50 meters from antenna to signal analyzer) compared with coax
Yet, the more important C/ a coaxial cable network which cables. This gain in combination with the higher C/N value may be
N and MER values were also is troublesome to establish and the decisive factor in taking a weak signal and putting it on a TV
better with the optical LNB. To prone to signal attenuation and screen or not. The low material costs (approx. 1€ per meter for the
be fair, we also have to mention interference. fibre optical cable, 25€ for a splitter for two connections, 60 to 70€
that the single LNB was tested for four connections) are another convincing argument in favor of
in dry weather conditions while
the optical LNB had to prove Future this innovative system.

its worth during rain that set

Perspectives -
in soon after the LNB had Practically none, apart from the fact that – from a strictly
been mounted. We can safely It’s not only Global Invacom mechanical point of view – fibre optical cables require more care
assume that both the C/N and that is convinced a turning point than standard coax cables. In addition, it is important to set up
MER values of the optical LNB in satellite signal distribution the system very diligently so that the cables are able to carry sig-
would have been even better in has been reached; we at TELE- nals without any obstruction so as to make sure that users can
dry conditions. satellite also believe the path enjoy this new technology to its fullest.
Global Invacom has taken with

Areas its optical LNB might become

a superhighway in the future. TECHNIC
of Application Just try to imagine a satellite
receiver which does not pick up Manufacturer Global Invacom, Essex, UK
In the truest sense of the the signal from a standard coax Website
word, Global Invacom has cable but is instead directly con-
developed this new system nected to the LNB by means of
with all customers in mind. a fiber optical cable! And that’s Tel +44-1621-743440
Apart from individual users and not all - PCs, TVs, DVD play- Model Optical LNB Handmade Evaluation Prototype
households, this technology ers and so on can all become Function Universal single LNB with optical output
is also particularly suited for members of such a network and and stacked frequency ranges
apartment buildings and multi- exchange data via a super-thin,
Reception range 10.7-11.7 GHz/11.7-12.75 GHz
family homes. Originating from hardly visible cable with all the
the optical LNB, the signal is content and signals made avail- Power supply 13/18V over “F” connector
fed to central nodes where it able to all of the components Optical connection FCPC — 04-05/2008 — TELE-satellite & Broadband 21