70% of the Samoan population which amounts to over 20,000 households now have access to a feature-rich and reliable Digital Terrestrial TV network due to a bespoke solution that was provided and integrated by Techtel in response to specifications to suit the Samoan environment developed for SDCL by a local specialist broadcast consultancy, BroadSpectrum Consultants. This marks the completion of Phase 1 of the national Digital Terrestrial Television Project initiated by the Samoan Government who prioritised television as a service as part of the wider Samoan economic development push.
Samoa’s new DVB-T2 network uses the latest Egatel transmission technology to provide an efficient and inventive method of providing national coverage without using any high capacity private networks to twenty transmitters across the country. Techtel, however faced a challenge to develop a practical and robust solution to manage and monitor the entire network from the Head-End operation room where utilising unmanaged GSM network was the only commercially viable choice. To overcome this challenge, Techtel developed an NMS (Network Monitoring System) solution based on the Servelec Remote Telemetry Units (RTUs) in conjunction with TConnect application. This combination forms a versatile telemetry platform that is effectively a blank canvas which requires custom programming to produce a single screen dashboard of the entire network while enabling users to drill down to each transmission site and then to each individual device to effectively monitor and manage the network from a central station.
Reaching some of the sites is only possible during a few and short windows around the year; and overcoming challenges like this was critical to the success of the project and sustainability of the operation in the years to come. Each transmitter site is equipped with an RTU to interconnect the site sensors, GPIOs, IT and broadcast devices and power systems to the Master Control Room (MCR) providing constant feedback about conditions inside either buildings or outdoor cabinets distributed around the islands. SNMP traps are harvested from the connected appliances in the transmitter locations and forwarded to the central NMS based on certain rules. Furthermore, Techtel’s programmers have fine-tuned these rules to minimise the data rate over unmanaged mobile network while maintaining accuracy and reliability of the alarms. Then Techtel integrated non-SNMP capable devices to a custom-build API gateway that makes SOAP XML API calls and translate the responses to standard SNMP messages so they can normalise the system to one unified communication protocol.
In order to minimise OPEX, all alarm messages from the remote stations are pushed in real-time to the NMS Dashboard via secured VPN tunnels using minimal bandwidth possible. In addition, a built-in 4G modem provides network operators with full access to the individual devices across the DTT network via secured VPN tunnels over GSM. This allows them to reach the native Web GUI of devices in the remote sites without a need to have any external utility server, router or managed services at the remote sites.
“Given the tough geographical condition with many difficult-to-reach transmission sites, paucity of telecommunications infrastructure and costly GSM services on Samoan Islands, our major challenge was to come up with a reliable yet bandwidth-efficient solution to manage and monitor this complex Digital Terrestrial TV network from a central station covering all 20x transmission stations across the country with no compromises”, said Payam Safa, Solutions Architect and Samoan DTTV Technical Project Manager at Techtel.
“Our in-house NMS system is completely self-contained where VPN services, NTP distribution agents, multi-layer IP switching and routing functions together with SNMP services and API gateways are tightly integrated together with an intuitive and user-friendly Web-based front-end to offer unprecedented features and capabilities to our customer and to the Broadcast market in general. Broadcast operators need to find intelligent and inventive ways to reduce the total cost of ownership of their network while still offering world class services to their customers and Techtel was proud to help SDCL achieve this”, Payam Safa added.
“It was great to see Techtel rise to the challenge in providing a network monitoring solution tailored to the current Samoan environment, geographical challenges faced by operations on the ground and available communications infrastructure on island. The team developed and delivered a cost effective remote monitoring and control solution which is a win-win not only for us as a multiplex operator, the operational cost savings indirectly benefit local content providers in the long run”, said Tuiaopo Andrew Ah Liki, Chairman at Samoa Digital Communications Limited.