An Overview

The organizations listed below have been using a technology known as FM2 to distribute programs. In February of 1998, we were informed that FM2 was not going to be available as a transmission system beyond February 29, 2000.

Through a series of lengthy conference calls, meetings, and E-mails, the networks focused on one thing: building a system that would allow a radio station to receive dozens of satellite channels on a single receiver for most stations.

"Our goal was to set standards for the Christian radio industry so a transition into new technology would be as smooth as possible."
The group is known as the Christian Radio Consortium (CRC). A careful study of network, station and program producer needs resulted in an outline for a new technology platform. The conclusion was unanimous: a migration was in order to a DVB-compliant system using the Wegener Communications UNITYTM4000 receiver.

DVB

The Digital Video Broadcasting Project (DVB) includes well over 220 member organizations in more than 30 countries worldwide. The members are broadcasters, manufacturers, network operators and regulatory bodies--all committed to designing a global family of standards for the delivery of digital program delivery via a variety of media: satellite, cable, terrestrial, microwave, MDS, CATV, SMATV. DVB compliant equipment and DVB transmissions are on the air in five continents. DVB systems deliver a flexible range of picture qualities, multi-channel sound and multimedia data. The entire configuration can be tailored to meet the demands of any service provider and market.
The UNITY4000 is a DVB-compliant receiver. The CRC has called for two minor hardware and software modifications based on the group's objectives: an increase of analog program audio output as well as program level receiver authorization.

One Digital Platform for Audio and Data

The UNITY4000 Broadcast Network Receiver teams a flexible MPEG2 Receiver with Advanced Control capabilities through Wegener's COMPELTM Network Control System. This design unites powerful built-in features:

Option Card Flexibility

UNITY Option cards allow the UNITY4000 to expand its feature set. Additional audio outputs. High speed synchronous or Ethernet data ports. The UNITY RelayCard puts 14 additional remote controllable relay contacts at your command.

RF Characteristics

Input Frequency Tuning via Front Panel Control or COMPEL
Input Frequency Range 950 to 2150 MHz
Carrier Lock Range +/- 1.0 MHz
Input Level Range -20 dBm to -135 dBm/Hz
Input Impedance 75 Ohms
LNB Power 18 VDC polarity switching @ 200 mA max.
Tuning Resolution 1 kHz
Modulation QPSK
FEC Coding Concatenated Reed-Solomon/convolutional [DVB]

Audio Compression Characteristics

Compression Type MPEG Layer II
Data Rate 64 - 384 kpbs
Output Modes Supported Mono Dual Mono Joint Stereo

Audio Output Characteristics

Frequency Response 20Hz to 20kHz
Output Level @ max PPL +18.0dbm
Impedance Balanced <50 Ohms
Harmonic Distortion <0.1%
S/N Ratio >80 dB

Outputs

Audio <50 Ohms via screw terminals
MPEG Transport Stream DVB Parallel LVDS
Alarm Relay closure via removable screw terminals
TTLs Closure via removable screw terminals
Data Port One 9.6 kb RS232 via DB9 connector
Data Port Two 38.4 kb R5232 via DB9 connector

Mechanical

Power Universal switching power supply
Size Rack mount: 1.75" x 19" x 13.5"
Operating Temperature 10° to 40° C

Agency Approvals [pending]

FCC Class B, UL, CSA, CE
 

FAQ

1. What is this Christian Radio Consortium?
 
An informal group of Christian radio satellite program distributors who've come together to solve a technical problem the industry faces: the end of our current technology called FM2. The group includes Ambassador Inspirational Radio, Focus Satellite Network, Moody Broadcasting Network, Salem Radio Network, SkyLight Satellite Network, USA Radio Network and VCY America Network.


2. How did this consortium form?
 

It came together as a result of being told at the 1998 NRB convention our current technology would no longer be offered after February 29, 2000. The group agreed it would be best to work together to find a common solution while minimizing the impact on radio stations. The CRC held a common dream to provide dozens of satellite services through a single receiver for most stations.


3. Is this a "formal" organization, like NRB?
 

It's informal by design but serious in intent and work. The CRC technical module, once a transition has been completed, will pursue other industry issues such as store-forward technology, DAB (digital audio broadcasting) and an examination of Web-castings impact on the industry, for example.
4. The current system seems to be working fine. Why make this change now?
The choice was not the CRC's. The current system (FM2) is inefficient with satellite space. The rising costs of construction, launch and maintenance forced satellite providers to be more productive in the use of their resources.
5. What is the timeline of the system?
 
The headends will be tested in early 1999. Stations should order their receiver directly from Wegener in the spring of 1999. Installation and transition must be completed by September 6, 1999. (Plan on 6-8 weeks for receiver delivery.)


6. Will there be a change in the audio quality?

For those who are currently operating analog, yes--as much as you'd expect from any transition from analog to digital--with all the inherent advantages. For Moody, Salem and SkyLight affiliates, any change will he nominal.
7. What will a receiver cost?
A standard receiver, which provides two stereo audio outputs is estimated to cost $2625. The receiver can be configured with a 14-position relay card and additional two stereo audio outputs which is estimated to cost $2925
8. How and when can I purchase a receiver?
Receivers will be purchased directly from Wegener. However the receivers will not be shipped until after the system has been thoroughly tested by the CRC technical group. We estimate this to be in April of 1999.
9. Will I need any other new equipment?
Each receiver will be shipped with a new LNB In some cases, depending upon antenna size, a station may need to install a new antenna. This is a result of antenna gain and 2° spacing of satellites. Satellite dishes which are not 2° compliant may encounter adjacent satellite interference. Antennas which are not large enough (minimum 2.8 meters) may not have enough signal gain to function without periodic interruption.
10. Can stations use their existing receivers?
The system will require a new DVB compliant receiver. The CRC has decided to standardize on Wegener's UNITY4000 receiver which meets or exceeds the specifications of any receiver currently in use.
11. Is that different from the group of Focus Satellite Network ministries?
The Focus group is part of the CRC. Several ministries have joined Focus in an effort to share satellite time just as each of the seven networks also represents a broad range of radio broadcasts being distributed via satellite.
12. What's your view of these various ministry organizations working together?
To say that it is historic in an understatement. Never have such a broad range of ministry organizations gathered with the primary objective of standardizing a transmission scheme. The group has been of one accord on every significant issue down the line--a real indication of God's hand--with a sense of unanimity and a spirit of genuine cooperation. As a result, stations will have a greater variety than ever--hundreds of programs--received through seven or more satellite distributors from one single receiver.


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