Eutelsat says while accidental/human error creates some 58 per cent of the interference suffered by satellite operators, a staggering 10 per cent is caused by either intentional (6 per cent) or so-called ‘pirate’ signal (4 per cent) problems.
The intentional interference comes from either rogue states, or Earth Stations operating with no regard for the consequences of their actions. Eutelsat maintains a database of some 12,500 Earth Stations, their carrier identifiers and other characteristics and admit that some problems do occur because of poor pointing accuracy and similar ‘human error’ causes.
Mark Rawlins, head of Payload Engineering at Eutelsat, speaking at the Washington Satellite 2012 event, said operators have to be smarter in their analysis of rogue signals. “The problem is that these signals tend not to give us a telephone number as to how we might contact them!”
Stewart Sanders, SVP Customer Service Delivery at SES (and chairman of the Space Data Assoc.) said the industry had to do more to train legitimate VSAT operators into industry ‘best practices’. Poor antennas, bad pointing of antennas and lower costs removing the once high barriers to entry have all impacted the core skillsets needed. Sanders said SES had donated $100,000 for training in Africa, including simple gestures like giving each technician a free set of crimping tools in order to improve the end result.