A Ku-band uplink and the accompanying downlink(s) are a popular choice for broadcasters here in the US for many reasons, including that it often meets the dual demands of functionality and price-point. Yet there are times when C-band is the only way to go. Here’s when choosing C-band over Ku-band may work for you and your network:
Wherever heavy precipitation is common
C-band was the first band to be used for satellite communications. Back in the day torrential rains and heavy snowfall caused major issues with C-band. Now, a robust design and proper equipment overcomes many obstacles brought about by heavy precipitation.
Take our customer in North Alabama. Several years ago the regional network was using a Ku-band uplink that sometimes suffered program interruptions due to rain fade. To counter the effects of heavy precipitation, we suggested installing uplink modems that had built-in AUPC (Automatic Uplink Power Control).
AUPC works by keeping the power variations to a minimum as storms pass through an area. Fewer variations mean an improvement in service quality by minimizing bit errors and outage times.
The modems with AUPC helped some, but outages continued. Our client’s frustration with signal interruptions – especially during prime hours – continued. It really wasn’t until he was able to transition from the Ku-band uplink to a C-band that the issues caused by heavy rains truly improved.
If size is not an issue
C-band antennas can be large – three times larger than Ku-band dishes, to be exact – so the amount of physical space you can dedicate to a satellite is critical. And remember, we’re not just talking about your uplink. You’ll need to purchase C-band downlinks, too.
Choosing C-band over Ku-band may all depend upon whether or not you own or rent the physical space at your locations. Some landlords view a large antenna on their property as a negative. We’ve even seen some owners increase their tenant’s monthly rent to accommodate for this “inconvenience”.
After getting the ok from the landlord, you’ll want to check and see if there are local ordinances governing the antenna’s size and visibility. Many cities across the US have strict ordinances that they require dish owners to meet – including location of the antenna, the size, and securing the dish with fencing.
You like the neighborhood
For C-band broadcast distribution, AMC-8 is a popular choice for radio and cable television networks. Currently there are nearly 10 thousand radio stations with downlinks already pointing at AMC-8, so if your goal is to reach a maximum number of affiliates, this bird is for you!
A word of caution: capacity is limited for this zip code. There are many options available on C-band satellites but they in less populated radio neighborhoods. If being in an exclusive satellite neighborhood isn’t important for your network, there ARE other orbital C-band satellites in which to choose.
To assure yourself that you are making the right decision about which band is best, take time and do the research. In addition to the points raised above, you’ll find that the hardware for C-band may cost a bit more, but the capacity costs (for the most part) are a bit less. This is the opposite of Ku-band, which utilizes smaller, less expensive hardware but has more expensive capacity.
Ultimately, your decision may be based more on your network’s specific communication requirements, since one band is not “better” than the other. With either Ku or C-band, you’ll get a high quality satellite signal that will meet your communication needs.