Jamming is hurting satellite industry badly

Salah Hamza, CEO at Cairo-based Nilesat, speaking at the Satellite 2012 event in Washington DC, said that the jamming of satellite signals is hurting the industry very badly. “We now even have what we call voluntary self-jamming, where in order to curb unwanted signals coming into a country it seems that a nation is prepared to also lose its own signals by jamming a complete transponder.”

“We can help mitigate this for our customers by placing the jammed transmissions onto other frequencies. For the past two months we have multiple examples of deliberate jamming. This has spread to five transponders, affecting many of our clients. It is deliberate, and seems to us to be quite senseless. In some instances, the jamming occurs on a daily basis starting promptly at 7.30am and finishing at 1am the following day. It is as if someone is just coming into an office and switching on the jamming mechanism as a matter of routine.”

Hamza explained that as the ‘Arab Spring’ series of revolutions and local protests have happened the jamming has intensified. “The recent events in Libya have added to the problems, but jamming now occurs from Bahrain, Syria and, of course, Iran. We have pro-government jammers, as well as opposition jammers. Last week we had jamming from a very sophisticated source, and generating 30 dBW of signal power which obliterates everything else on a transponder. These people seem determined to act as satellite operators, judging what will – and will not – be carried by an operator. Indeed, this case was quite ridiculous because even after we had removed all of the channels from a transponder, which is a huge headache for us and our customers, the jamming continued onto an empty transponder!”

“These are huge problems, and there’s no real sign of the problem going away. We have some measures we can take including complaining to the Arab League, and the ITU. The ITU, it seems, has no teeth so perhaps it will need the United Nations to act, because it is truly damaging in every way. The problem is not helped by the jamming frequently coming from one Arab country against another.”

 

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