Landmark Broadcast Technology for Turkmenistan

For project supervisor Robert Bleicher (a project manager in the Broadcast Division) and his team, it was not the kind of order you receive every day. A record-breaking new TV tower was being built in Turkmenistan, formerly part of the Soviet Union. Incorporating a giant, eight-pointed star and a revolving restaurant, the tower is not just a standout piece of architecture. The Oguz Khan star has even made its way into the Guinness Book of Records as the largest architectural star in the world. And the new tower also features a number of technical highlights: The glass facade, for instance, is equipped with a photovoltaic system that illuminates the tower at night. The building also has a brand-new radio and television studio and broadcast center equipped with the very latest broadcast technology from Rohde & Schwarz.

A Cool Head at High Temperatures

“The decision in favor of technology from Rohde & Schwarz for the ‘Channel 6’ project was largely driven by the customer’s positive experiences in prior contracts,” explains Robert Bleicher. Rohde & Schwarz has supplied the Republic of Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Communications with innovative broadcast technology for many years now. The fault tolerance and robustness of Rohde & Schwarz products in particular have always been crucial points in the company’s favor. One key element in this project, the cooling system, was developed in-house. It ensures that the equipment continues to operate smoothly and reliably in spite of the temperature extremes typical for Turkmenistan’s climate.

All the broadcast equipment installed supports both analog and digital television and radio in Turkmenistan. Furthermore, all the analog TV stations are equipped for a future switchover to digital. The contract also included supplying several thousand Vestel set-top boxes for receiving DVB-T2 broadcasts.

Forty-Four Tons of Transmitter Hit the Road

Things got moving in early October 2011 when the transmitters, built in Teisnach, were shipped off to Turkmenistan. The consignment, weighing some 44 tons, was first flown to Baku in Azerbaijan, where it was loaded onto trucks and then taken by ferry across the Caspian Sea. As Robert Bleicher reports, the second challenge emerged on site: “A lot of building work was going on, in and around the TV tower. More than 3,000 construction workers were trying to complete the tower and the entire infrastructure punctually in time for the 20th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s declaration of independence.” In addition, only one elevator was available to move the transmitter parts, so functionalto avoid stalling the construction work, the team of seven from Rohde & Schwarz had to use it during the evenings and at night.

The huge changes in temperature and the cramped conditions in the broadcasting center also posed problems for the Rohde & Schwarz team. “We made use of every last centimeter of space except for the emergency access and escape routes,” says Robert Bleicher. The first transmitter went into operation on time on October 18, 2011, the 20th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s independence; others followed in due course. Robert Bleicher sums up: “The project was an exceptional experience. This is the first time in the history of Rohde & Schwarz that so many transmitters have been installed and put into operation in a single station. And Turkmenistan now has the most advanced broadcast technology available on the market today.”

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