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Hotel TV systems - headends and amplifiers
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A GUIDE FOR INVESTORS, DESIGNERS, INSTALLERS
Digitization of television is the driving force behind many actions related to the modernization of reception systems both in the case of individual antennas and shared antenna systems in multi-dwelling units. This trend also applies to professional MATV/SMATV systems in hotels, which are nowadays indispensable for the comforts of the guests.
One of the criteria for classification of TV systems in hotels is the programming to be distributed. The simplest systems may provide only free-to-air terrestrial TV broadcasts, whereas more advanced solutions will include satellite channels, also some premium ones (pay-TV). The content required by the owner/investor will depend on the categories of prospective hotel guests (foreign and thematic channels etc).
At the outset, it is worth noting that hotels/boardinghouses with (S)MATV systems based on headends will not pose problems with the number of rooms (outlets). The cost mostly depends on the number and arrangement of channels received from satellite transponders. A larger number of outlets is only connected with the need to purchase additional amplifiers that usually are a small percentage of the total cost of the system.
So, the choice of the content is the fundamental problem in creating an approximate calculation for this type of investment. Often, the investor has a difficulty with selecting the optimal list of channels, which is necessary for the cost estimate. We can suggest some strategies for hoteliers and installers interested in building/developing hotel TV systems. In this short guide we will also present examples of practical solutions of headends for reception and distribution of different numbers of channels intended for various kinds of guests.
Distribution of digital terrestrial television (DVB-T)
Currently built/organized hotels
Owners of newly built hotels and boardinghouses, equipping them with LCD televisions featuring built-in DVB-T tuners compliant with the broadcasting standard, must only provide the antenna signal to outlets in rooms and other facilities. This can be achieved by using appropriate amplifier(s) depending on signal conditions and the number of the outlets.
Smaller hotels or boardinghouses located in areas with good reception conditions and needing ten, twenty or even more than fifty antenna outlets can be equipped with appropriate models of Telmor amplifiers.
The installers' choice will probably be the digitally programmable multiband amplifier WWK-951 R89861. It features the highest gain in the UHF band (up to 45 dB), suitable for distributing DVB-T multiplexes even to about 100 outlets, without additional amplifiers (the maximum number of outlets depends on the input signal level, cabling and passive components of the distribution system).
In larger hotels and in the case of difficult reception conditions, we recommend to use highly selective channel amplifiers from Terra.
The components of a system based on Terra devices:
  • R82510 - at420 - twin channel amplifier
  • R82511 - at440 - four-channel amplifier
  • R82515 - mt420 - twin VSB multi-standard modulator
  • R82520 - ma400 - multiband amplifier with Three independent paths (FM, VHF&DAB, UHF) and high maximum output level
  • accessories: power supply unit, power strip, RF bridges etc.
Twin Channel Amplifier: Terra at420 (UHF, analog TV & DVB-T, AGC)
Four-channel Amplifier: Terra at440 (UHF, DVB-T, AGC)
Base Unit UC-380 (for Modular Headend MMH-3000)
Multiband Amplifier Terra ma400 (FM/VHF/UHF)
at420 R82510
at440 R82511
mt420 R82515
ma400 R82520
Typical architectures of hotel TV distribution systems:
  • star topology - used for smaller systems - all lines to the outlets in hotel rooms come from a central point of the system located e.g. in the attic, basement, server room etc.
  • mixed topology - used for larger systems - with subnetworks grouping physically close segments of a system, such as rooms on the same floor or in other part of a building - the signal is usually amplified at the inputs of the subnetworks distributing it further to the outlets with the use of splitters and taps.
The modularity of Terra systems allows for flexible adaptation to both types of installation.
Using the former topology, it is necessary to ensure a relatively high output level in the central point of the system. The application of the set of at420 R82510 / at440 R82511 channel amplifiers and ma400 R82520 multiband amplifier with maximum output level of 117 dBuV will ensure the division and distribution of the signal to over 100 outlets.
In the case of a larger number of outlets, it would be technically difficult and uneconomical to distribute the signal from one central point. The application of the mixed topology with several subnetworks with individual amplifiers solves the problem.
For this purpose, the ideal choice for input devices are twin channel amplifiers at420 R82510 and four-channel amplifiers at440 R82511 with maximum output level of 85 dBuV. This level is sufficient for division of the signal into multiple paths with additional launch/building amplifiers located at the inputs of the subnetworks.
The following diagrams show examples of the two kinds of DVB-T distribution systems installed in hotels
High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet (v1.4, 0.5m, 28AWG)
Hotel DVB-T system based on star topology. Click on the diagram to download the PDF version.
DVB-T system based on mixed topology. Click on the diagram to download the PDF version.
Terra building amplifiers:
     
NameHA-123HA-126HA-129HA-024
CodeR82301R82303R82314R82292
Gain (max)28 dB34 dB36 dB30 dB
Hotels with CRT or older LCD televisions with incompatible tuners
When a hotel or boardinghouse uses older TVs, the upgrade of the antenna system can be based on one of several scenarios. The main criteria for choosing the right solution is the number of the TVs in the facility and, of course, the cost of implementation.
In the case of small facilities with a dozen or so televisions, the best solution is probably to replace them with modern TVs designed for reception of DVB-T broadcasts. In a situation where the budget does not allow for exchange of the televisions, a good alternative is to buy external DVB-T receivers. However, they are additional devices that have to be placed in the rooms, together with separate remote controls.
   
NameSignal 507Signal 527
CodeA99250A99252

 

The biggest practical advantage of the Signal HD-507 DVB-T receiver is compact size. The device that can be directly plugged into the SCART input of a TV set will be virtually invisible to the user.
The owners of hotels with more than twenty/thirty rooms equipped with older TVs can use other solutions. In this case, the exchange of all televisions may be too expensive, whereas multiple external DVB-T receivers may also create operational problems. The best solution seems to be the application of a headend with CODFM-PAL transmodulators converting the digital broadcasts into analog channels.
There are two variants, the optimum choice depends on the number of rooms (outlets). The dividing line here is quite fuzzy, somewhere between 40 and 80 outlets.
Below this line, it is sufficient to use the semi-professional headend Mixpol DVB-08T R951680, which receives and converts eight DVB-T broadcasts into analog PAL channels. The number can be easily doubled by using two such headends. Since each DVB-08T headend is equipped with 8 independent DVB-T receivers, the choice of the multiplexes and channels is free. The maximum output level of the analog PAL modulators is 82 dBuV, which would be sufficient for passive distribution network with a dozen or so outlets, but in the case of 20...40...80 outlets it is necessary to employ the appropriate broadband amplifier.
DVB-T / UHF PAL Headend: Mixpol DVB-08T (8 channels)
Mixpol DVB-08T R951680 headend converting 8 DVB-T broadcasts into analog PAL channels
UHF TV Antenna: DIPOL 44/21-69 Tri Digit3-Way TV/FM Splitter R-3 Signal8-Way Splitter R-8 Signal8-Way Splitter R-8 SignalDVB-T / UHF PAL Headend: Mixpol DVB-08T (8 channels)DVB-T / UHF PAL Headend: Mixpol DVB-08T (8 channels)Programmable Multiband Amplifier: Telmor WWK-9512-Way TV/FM Splitter R-2 SignalBuilding Amplifier:Terra HA-1262-Way TV/FM Splitter R-2 Signal
MATV system based on two R951680 headends, with distribution of original DVB-T multiplexes
and 16 DVB-T broadcasts converted into analog PAL channels
A fully professional solution for the conversion of digital DVB-T broadcasts into analog channels is the use of MMH-3000 headend with appropriate modules. Although the headend is mainly dedicated for larger facilities, it can be successfully applied in medium-size hotels, boardinghouses etc. Due to its modular design, it is possible to tailor the functionality depending on the current needs and easily expand it in the future. Typical expansion consists in adding satellite channels or multimedia signals. These capabilities will be described later in this article.
The basic elements of the MMH-3000 headend dedicated for the same application include:
  • UC-380 R81700 - base unit with power supply and amplifier, for up to 8 modules
Base Unit UC-380 (for Modular Headend MMH-3000)
  • RT-316 R81707 - COFDM receiver / DSB PAL modulator (converts one digital channel into analog PAL channel and provides the rest of the multiplex in the form of MPEG-TS stream to DM-316 modules)
OFDM Receiver / DSB Modulator: Terra RT-316 (MMH-3000)
  • DM-316 R817121 - MPEG2 TS decoder / DSB PAL modulator (decodes MPEG2-TS and converts one of the channels to analog PAL channel)
MPEG2 TS Decoder / DSB PAL Modulator: Terra DM-316 (MMH-3000)
Appropriately to the needs of the customer, we may supply other models of RT/DM modules, including VSB versions RT-315 and DM-315.
The diagram below shows the hardware components necessary for the construction of MMH-3000 headend capable of distributing 17 PAL channels converted from three DVB-T multiplexes. The three UC-380 R81700 units can accommodate a total of 24 modules, which allows for seamless expansion of the headend in the future (e.g. due to new channels in digital multiplexes). Of course, the investor may limit the number of the modules/channels.
The configuration of the RT-316 and DM-316 modules is performed with user-friendly and intuitive Terra Link software. It consists in scanning the TV band and choosing the appropriate channels.
Click on the diagram to download PDF version
The comparison of Mixpol and Terra solutions:
Terra MMH-3000
  • flexibility - easy expansion
  • simple configuration
  • support for teletext
  • optional support for pay-TV DVB-T
  • extreme stability and reliability
Mixpol DVB-08T
  • small size
  • low price
  • no teletext
  • higher requirements for the level and quality the input signals
The table below shows the comparison between the costs (per one room) of the solutions described above, used for reception of DVB-T broadcasts in hotels equipped with analog televisions.
 Approximate net price per one room [EUR]*
Number of roomsNew TV**DVB-T STB
Mixpol DVB-08TTerra MMH-3000
202002873180
50200282971
100200281536
15020028-24
* distribution of 16 channels
** the average price of popular 24-inch TVs on the European markets (Dec. 2012)
In the case of large systems, it is clear that the investment in headend solutions can save up to 90% of the cost of exchanging all televisions.
Distribution of DVB-T & DVB-S channels - SMATV systems
Hotels with CRT or older LCD televisions with incompatible tuners
Headends distributing satellite channels after conversion to analog form are still popular solutions used in hotels. Satellite channels can be a complement to terrestrial TV broadcasts or be the only or main source of programming in the system. The headends can use the previously listed modules converting DVB-T multiplexes into analog PAL channels and:
  • RDC-313 R81710 - QPSK receiver / PAL modulator receiving free-to-air or encrypted DVB-S channels (transponder), providing them as MPEG-2 stream to other modules, one of the SAT channels is available in the form of analog RF channel (PAL)
QPSK CI Receiver RDC-313 (QPSK/PAL, for MMH-3000 headend)
  • DM-313 R81712 - decompresses a desired channel from the MPEG-2 transport stream (from the same transponder) provided by the RDC-313 module
MPEG-2 TS Decoder/VSB Modulator: DM-313<br />(for Terra MMH-3000 headend)
The examples below present solutions for hotel TV systems based on Terra MMH-3000 headends distributing analog PAL channels. In each case there is also a list of the received channels (locations in Poland).
Example 1: Distribution of 4 terrestrial TV channels and 4 SAT TV channels – 8 channels
The programming includes main public channels, news channel, automotive channel, women's and children's channels.
HDMI Female to HDMI Female Adapter
Click on the diagram to download PDF version
No.NameMultiplex/TransponderSource
1TVP1MUX3DVB-T
2TVP2MUX1DVB-T
3TVNMUX2DVB-T
4PolsatMUX2DVB-T
5TVN2411393VSAT - Hotbird 13.0E
6TVN Turbo
7TVN Style
8Cartoon Network10949VSAT - Hotbird 13.0E
The list of components:
NameCodeNumber
RT-316R817073
DM-316R8171211
RDC-313R817102
DM-313R817122
UC-380R817001
Example 2: Distribution of 4 terrestrial TV channels and 12 SAT TV channels, including premium channels and international news channels – 16 channels
Programming with a wide range of channels in Polish, popular German channels (3) and English channels (2).
Signal-HD HDMI Switcher 2x1
Click on the diagram to download PDF version
No.NameMultiplex/TransponderSource
1TVP1MUX3DVB-T
2TVP2MUX1DVB-T
3TVNMUX2DVB-T
4PolsatMUX2DVB-T
5TVN2411393VSAT - Hotbird 13.0E
6TVN Turbo
7TVN Style
8Cartoon Network10949VSAT - Hotbird 13.0E
9Canal+10892HSAT - Hotbird 13.0E
10Canal+ Film
11Canal+ Sport
12RTL12187HSAT - Astra 19.2E
13N-TV
14N2412544HSAT - Astra 19.2E
15BBC World News12597VSAT - Hotbird 13.0E
16CNN Int. Europe11778VSAT - Hotbird 13.0E
The list of components:
NameCodeNumber of pieces
RT-316R817073
DM-316R8171211
RDC-313R817106
DM-313R817126
UC-380R817002
Hotels equipped with digital televisions
There is no sense to distribute analog channels in hotels equipped with televisions with digital tuners.
The reasons for switching to digital TV in hotels:
  • Better image quality even in SD resolution plus possibility of using High Definition channels.
  • Identical image quality throughout the whole system - the image quality of DVB-T broadcasts is normally independent from the distribution path, in contrast to analog channels (noise, ghosting). All televisions provide images of the same quality.
  • Bandwidth efficiency - in the case of multiple channels there is no risk of shortage of the bandwidth (COFDM modulation is about 6 times more efficient than the modulation schemes used in analog TV).
  • Use of current unified standard - after transitional periods analog TV broadcasts are switched-off.
  • Lower cost - there is a popular misconception that headends distributing digital channels are more expensive than those distributing programming in analog form. In practice, depending on the configuration (selection of channels), they may be considerably cheaper, offering much more channels. The reason is a smaller number of modules (one module can provide a whole multiplex carrying several channels).
Components for headends distributing digital channels in hotels:
  • TDX-311 R81711 - DVB-S/S2 (8PSK+QPSK) FTA receiver / DVB-T COFDM modulator used to receive and distribute free to air satellite channels from a whole transponder, converted into a DVB-T multiplex
TERRA TDX-311 (8PSK+QPSK FTA receiver / DVB-T@COFDM modulator - for MMH-3000)
  • TDX-311 R81711C - DVB-S/S2 (8PSK/QPSK) receiver / DVB-T COFDM modulator used to receive encrypted or FTA channels from a whole transponder, converted into a DVB-T multiplex
TERRA TDX-311C (8PSK+QPSK CI receiver / DVB-T@COFDM modulator - for MMH-3000)
  • TRX-360 R81709 - DVB-T COFDM re-modulator with six MPEG-2 TS inputs cooperating with RDC-311 R817102 DVB-S/S2 receivers. The set of RDC-311 R817102 and TRX-360 R81709 modules can convert satellite channels chosen from different transponders into "tailored" DVB-T multiplex (max 8 channels from up to 6 transponders)
DVB-T Modulator (COFDM) for TERRA MMH-3000
  • RDC-311 R817102 - DVB-S/DVB-S2 receiver with PCMCIA slot for a Common Interface (CI), dedicated for reception of a single transponder and conversion of it into MPEG2 TS fed into one of the inputs of TRX-360 R81709
DVB-S/S2 Receiver (CI, MPEG2 TS output): Terra RDC-311 (for MMH-3000 headend)
Remark:
Depending on the wishes of the investor, digital terrestrial television broadcasts can be injected into the distribution system with the use of CT-311 R81715 channel converters (1 module for 1 multiplex) or via a set of channel amplifiers. The first option, although a bit more expensive, provides a lot of flexibility for optimum channel planning in the distribution network and does not require additional equipment (all the equipment can be located in the headend).
Example 1: Distribution of 17 DVB-T channels and12 SAT TV channels – 29 channels (in Polish)
The programming includes only channels in Polish (in this example; it may be a completely different programming in another country). The use of modules distributing digital multiplexes limits the size of the headend to one base unit.
No.NameMultiplex/TransponderSource
1TVP1MUX3DVB-T
2TVP2MUX1DVB-T
3ATM RozrywkaMUX1DVB-T
4Eska TVMUX1DVB-T
5TVP InfoMUX1DVB-T
6Polo TVMUX1DVB-T
7TTVMUX1DVB-T
8PolsatMUX2DVB-T
9TVNMUX2DVB-T
10TVN7MUX2DVB-T
11TV4MUX2DVB-T
12TV PulsMUX2DVB-T
13TV6MUX2DVB-T
14Polsat Sport NewsMUX2DVB-T
15TVP KulturaMUX3DVB-T
16TVP PoloniaMUX3DVB-T
17TVP HistoriaMUX3DVB-T
18TVN2411393VSAT - Hotbird 13.0E
19TVN Turbo
20TVN Style
21Canal+10892HSAT - Hotbird 13.0E
22Canal+ Film
23Canal+ Sport
24ESPN11117VSAT - Hotbird 13.0E
25BBC Enterntaiment
26BBC Lifestyle
27BBC Knowledge
28Cbeebies
294Fun TV10719VSAT - Hotbird 13.0E
Version A: Application of Terra MMH-3000 headend for distribution of DVB-T multiplexes
Click on the diagram to download PDF version
The list of components:
NameCodeNumber of pieces
CT-311R817153
TDX-311CR81711C1
RDC-311R8171023
TRX-360R817091
UC-380R817001
Version B: Distribution of DVB-T multiplexes with the use of channel amplifiers and the base unit
Click on the diagram to download PDF version
The list of components:
NameCodeNumber of pieces
at420R825102
DR-60-12R825321
TDX-311CR81711C1
RDC-311R8171023
TRX-360R817091
UC-380R817001
Example 2: 17 DVB-T channels and 25 TV SAT channels - 42 channels, including:
  • 29 channels in Polish
  • 6 channels in German
  • 2 channels in English
  • 3 channels in French
  • 2 channels in Russian
Click on the diagram to download PDF version
No.NameMultiplex/TransponderSourceLanguage
1 - 7TVP2, ATM, Eska, TVP Info, Polo, TTVMUX1DVB-TPL
8- 14TVN, Polsat, TVN7, TV4, TV6, Polsat Sport News, PulsMUX2DVB-TPL
15 - 17TVP1, TVP Historia, Kultura, PoloniaMUX3DVB-TPL
18 - 20TVN24, TVN Style, TVN Turbo11393VSAT - Hotbird 13.0EPL
21 - 23Canal+, Canal+ Film, Canal+ Sport10892HSAT - Hotbird 13.0EPL
24 - 28EPSN, BBC Ent., BBC Life., BBC Know., Cbeebies11117VSAT - Hotbird 13.0EPL
294Fun TV10719VSAT - Hotbird 13.0EPL
30 - 33ZDF, 3Sat, KiKA, ZDF Info11954HAstra - 19.2EDE
34 - 35RTL, N-TV12188HAstra - 19.2EDE
36 - 37Russia 24, RTR Planeta11034VSAT - Hotbird 13.0ERU
38 - 39France 24, CCTV Francais11538VAstra - 19.2EFR
40TV 5 Monde11137VSAT - Hotbird 13.0EFR
41BBC World News12597VSAT - Hotbird 13.0EEN
42CNN Int. Europe11778VAstra - 19.2EEN
The list of components:
NameCodeNumber
CT-311R817153
TDX-311CR81711C1
RDC-311R8171029
TRX-360R817093
UC-380R817002
Private channels in hotel TV systems
Many hotel owners would like to launch in their hotel TV systems "private" channels with a selected content. The typical signal sources include PCs, DVDs/Blu-rays, and very popular media players capable of playing previously prepared presentations and videos.
The injection of such a channel into the hotel TV distribution system is possible with the use of an appropriate RF modulator. Depending on the required form of the output signal (analog or digital), there are two types of the devices. Analog modulators are by far the cheaper solution. Digital modulators are more expensive, but ensure better quality, including the option of HD, and the same viewing experience in the whole distribution system.
Distribution of analog channel(s)
In the case of Terra MMH-3000 headends distributing the main programming as analog TV channels, the additional hotel channel can be injected into the system with the use of MT-310 R81708 modulator module.
VSB Modulator MT-310 (for MMH-3000)
VSB modulator MT-310 R81708 for MMH-3000 headend
The cheapest analog solutions are based on standalone RF modulators. Due to small size, such a modulator can be placed close to the signal source (PC, media player) e.g. at the front desk.
It is worth to pay attention to the maximum output level of the modulator intended for the hotel system. The higher the level, the better - there may not be a need for an additional amplifier for the distribution of the signal to a larger number of rooms. The cheapest modulators available on the market with output level of 75-80 dBuV are not suitable for this purpose (they are dedicated for home applications and usually feature comparatively high noise levels).
In analog systems, where a single program occupies one channel, a large number of distributed channels may force the user to choose a vestigial-side-band (VSB) modulator. The application of a cheaper, dual-side-band (DSB) modulator would cause interference in the neighboring lower channel.
In the case a larger number of modulators in the system, it is important to properly organize the connections, also taking into account the future maintenance of the system. It will be easier using modules with two or more modulators.
The example is twin VSB modulator Terra mt420 R82515. Another advantage of this module is the possibility of mounting on universal DIN rail, which ensures professional and elegant appearance of the equipment.
A system with four mt420 R82515 twin modulators (8 channels) plus the set of channel amplifiers
The table below groups modulators that can be used in different hotels/boardinghouses. The full list of RF modulators available in our eStore can be found here.
 
NameMT-31MT-30AMT-29mt420
CodeR871736R871731R871729R82515
Number of channels
1112
Max output level [dBμV]809210090
DSB/VSBVSBVSBDSBDSB
Distribution of digital channel(s)
Headend systems
A digital channel can be injected into the hotel TV system with the use of an appropriate module of the Terra MMH-3000 headend. The MD-330 R81713 MPEG-2 encoder enables conversion of analog audio/video signals (e.g. from analog cameras or media players) into digital MPEG-2 TS streams. The streams can then be placed in a DVB-T multiplex and received in the distribution network as digital TV channels. The multiplex is formed by TRX-360 R81709 DVB-T modulator. The modulator can multiplex up to 6 transport streams (MPEG-2 TS) and convert them into COFDM modulated DVB-T RF channel (multiplex). Due to multiple inputs, the rest of them can be used for distribution of e.g. satellite channels, by connecting the RDC-311 R817102 DVB-S/S2 receivers.
MPEG-2 Encoder: Terra MD-330 (for MMH-3000 headend)
MPEG-2 encoder MD-330 R81713
An example application of the encoder is presented below.
The use of the MD-330 encoder for launching signals from three A/V sources and satellite TV channel.
Click on the diagram to download the PDF version.

Systems based on Terra channel amplifiers
One or two private channels in the digital form can be added to the existing DVB-T multiplexes distributed in the antenna system (by a set of at420 R81510 or at440 R82511 channel amplifiers) via the TERRA mdx420 DVB-T modulator. The input A/V signals may come from cameras, multimedia players, computers, DVD players, satellite receivers etc. The output DVB-T RF channel (multiplex) carries the both A/V signals as digital channels. This modulator can be a complement to the set of channel amplifiers, or may be installed (together with power supply) in a separate installation box.
Dual-channel A/V -> DVB-T modulator Terra mdx420 R82518
DVB-T modulators with HDMI inputs from Signal series
The biggest advantage of this group is the ability to distribute HD content. The source HDMI signal may come from a media player, DVR, Blu-ray, PC, STB decoder etc. So, the highest quality content can be distributed in the antenna system together with normally available DVB-T broadcasts.
Typical application of the Signal-751 R86751 modulator is shown in the figure below.
Distribution of COFDM-modulated RF signal via RF network (up to Full HD quality) and IP multicast streaming
Another advantage of the device is the ability to provide parallel UDP/IP stream (IP multicast technology).

Short comparison of DVB-T modulators:

 

 

 r82518
NameMD-330mdx420Signal-751Signal-752
CodeR81713R82518R86751R86752
Mounting method
in MMH-3000 headend
with set of Terra channel amplifiers;
separately
separatelyseparately
Number of inputs (channels)
3212
Video resolution
SDSDSD/HDSD/HD
Max output level [dBμV]90859797
Remarksto be used with TRX-360OLED display
Additional IP multicast streaming
Additional IP multicast streaming